The beloved dock—my home for apps on iPad

The beloved dock, a UI principle carried over from the Mac, through to the iPhone and subsequently the iPad.

In 2017, iOS 11 was unveiled. Despite being riddled with bugs and issues, it brought many quality-of-life improvements to the iPad. One of these was how the dock functioned. A quick swipe up let you get to your most important apps quicker—no matter what you’re doing, from wherever you were on the iPad.

This brilliant feature made the dock immensely more useful—and it got me thinking—why shouldn’t I put every app in the dock?

Three folder system

I now use a three folder system on both my iPhone and iPad. All apps (with a few exceptions) go in to one of the three categories: General, Work and Games.

This means that no matter where I am on the iPad—browsing Safari, reading an email, or writing an article—I can quickly swipe up and open a new app, long press to trigger a contextual menu, or drag an app to multitasking.

It’s so much quicker than having to go to the Home Screen, drag an app over and re-open the previous app with a convoluted and calculated finger-dance.

The dock display three folders: general, work and games on iPad
Three folder system: General, Work and Games

A sparse Home Screen

Most of the Home Screen is left as a blank canvas, a gallery to showcase the wallpaper from the wonderful Studio Muti in Cape Town, South Africa.

iPadOS 13 lets you keep the Today View on the Home Screen next to where the apps would typically sit. For the few times I find myself on the Home Screen, Siri app suggestions does a great job of predicting what app I want to use next, along with the three Suggested and Recent apps that appear on the right hand side of the dock. I also have some Shortcuts pinned here too for quick access, which I’m sure I’ll write about someday.

In future versions of iPadOS, I hope dearly that Apple opens up more of the Home Screen. It would be great to extend the Today View across that blank canvas.

Siri app suggestions on iPad
Siri app suggestions


If I’m in a pinch and I can’t remember if I put a new app in Generic or Work, a quick swipe down from the Home Screen (or Command-Space bar) brings up Search and the app is accessible with a joyous tap.

Side-note: Apple never officially calls this feature Spotlight, but rather just ‘Search’.

The app Apollo shows when searching for 'Reddit' on iPad
Apollo shows when searching for Reddit


I love using the dock as a home for all my apps. It allows me to sprint around the iPad UI with a furious flurry of taps and swipes. It’s one more reason why I love my iPad.