This concept brings the main menu we know and love from Mac to iPad. It keeps the numerous advantages of a written menu, redesigned with touch devices in mind.
iPad Main Menu helps bring a vast amount of features to iPadOS for people who seek out this power, while keeping the OS accessible for users who prefer a simpler experience.
The iPad Main Menu provides a robust and consistent way to access and discover all features of an app. No matter which state or view you are in, it’s always accessible via the dock featuring the same layout. Users finally have a consistent way to find the features they’re looking for.
A menu is a central hub of all the app’s features, described in words as well as structured and grouped in understandable ways. No more features hidden behind icons, gestures, share sheets, modal views or other UI elements.
As the iPad Main Menu is located on an extra layer above the existing UI, developers can include way more functions in their apps without needing to create a corresponding button for each one. Even hiding very specific pro-actions for a specialized user group is possible thanks to the menu.
A two-column layout allows the menu to have a smaller footprint at first glance. The menu opens in a compact view, showing only the left column. Common actions available to every app are located on the left. Once the user selects a menu, the right side opens, displaying the contents of each corresponding app menu. This allows the user to quickly scan through all available app menus.
iPad Main Menu supports Split View by providing an easy way to switch active apps without leaving the menu. Just select the desired app via the app-switcher in the upper left corner. The app-switcher resembles the layout of Split View or Slide Over. The inactive app is dimmed and decolorized.
iPadOS intelligently shows the menu based on the last interaction of an app or active focus via a keyboard.
App interfaces, especially pro apps, often suffer from excessive use of icons. Their meaning can be unclear and vary based on person, context and culture.
Labeled icons are easier to understand and facilitate looking for actions. Menu icons also allow users to learn each appʼs native icons. The iPad Main Menu introduces a color system for icons to better categorize by feature. Icons and colors are fully customizable for developers.
The iPad Menu is fully compatible with external keyboards. No matter whether you want to show, navigate, select, or close the menu, there’s no need to lift a finger, even without using a mouse or trackpad.
Once an external keyboard is connected, each menu action displays its unique shortcut. To speed up navigation, the menu will open the first app menu selected.
The current configuration of keyboard buttons next to text suggestions is highly inconsistent. Every app can customize these buttons, resulting in ever-changing layouts.
iPad Main Menu solves this problem with the introduction of a new, standardized set of actions in the left column. This ensures consistent access to the most important features.
Apps that support text formatting can directly open a mini version of the format menu. These standardized actions allow users to quickly change common text attributes like weight, underlining, size and alignment.
Even apps that aren’t updated yet will show the menu. Functions like undo/redo and cut/copy/paste are supported as of today. As the iPad Main Menu replaces the 3-Finger-Tap gesture, this now shows shortcut actions inside the menu.
More of these freely-available functions include: opening the app settings in system preferences, showing new features based on the App Store changelog, and opening the support website linked in the App Store.