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iPadOS

Here's what is coming with iPadOS 16 this Fall!

By Aryan Suren June 11, 2022, 8:00 am
iPadOS 16 Stage Manager on the iPad Source: Pocketnow
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iPadOS and its transition into an operating system that does more has steadily progressed with year-on-year improvements. And this year, at WWDC 2022, the story was no different. The iPadOS 16 update, which will likely launch alongside iOS 16 this Fall, brings massive changes to multitasking capabilities, external display support, and collaborative workflows.

But those aren't the only changes coming to the iPad. Thus, this article covers everything you need to know about the upcoming update.

New Features for iPadOS 16

Multitasking with Stage Manager

iPadOS 16 Source: Apple

The most notable change you'll see on iPadOS 16, which will be part of all marketing material, is Stage Manager — an element shared with macOS Ventura. This feature allows iPad users to resize and overlap windows, allowing them to display four apps on the iPad and another four on an external display.

The feature essentially works by making the active application prominent on and centered on the screen, while other open applications are shown on the left-hand side via their order of recency.

Unfortunately, this feature will be limited to iPads with the M1 Processor, meaning only the 2021 iPad Pro lineup and 2022 iPad Air 5 can use this feature. Users will also need to connect an external keyboard for this feature to become useable.

Apple states the limitation of Stage Manager to M1 iPads is due to the availability of Memory Swap on those devices. This lets the tablet speed up actions related to Multitasking by expanding the available storage as memory, going up to 16GB for a single app.

External Display Support

an image showing an iPad connected to an external display and the use of Stage Manager Source: Apple

In addition to Stage Manager, which allows you to do more on iPad, Apple has also introduced better support for external displays with iPadOS 16.

Earlier versions of external display support were limited to display mirroring or some specific applications pushing certain content to the extra real estate. But with the new update, users can use the additional screen as space for more applications in Window Mode — via Stage Manager — and drag and drop files between the two instances.

Full External Display functionality is also limited to iPads with M1.

Desktop-class apps

an image showing the customizable toolbars brought with the desktop class api in iPadOS 16 Source: Apple

Moving on from multitasking, iPadOS 16 features a new Desktop App API, which will allow developers to enhance the capabilities of their applications by offering more options. Apple showcased the improvements by advertising changes to Files, which will enable users to change file extensions, view folder properties, and more. They even showcased customizable toolbars in the Pages application.

Weather

an image with Craig Federighi on stage showcasing the weather app for ipados 16 Source: Apple

Weather on iPad has always been a weird element. iPadOS 14 brought its widget to the Home Screen, but interacting with it sent you straight to the web. But two years on, Apple finally has a full-fledged application built for the iPad.

The application looks extremely similar to the version we've seen on iPhone. In Apple's press release, we could see boxes providing forecasts — for the day and ten days in the future — alongside other elements showing the UV Index, wind direction, and more. Overall, it's the same application made for a larger-scale display.

Apple also advertised a new Weather Kit API, which will allow developers to pull information from Apple's Weather App into their applications.

Freeform & Collaboration

an image showcasing the working of the Freeform application in iPadOS 16 Source: Apple

And last on the list are Freeform and Collaboration. The former is an application that probably won't be available at launch, whereas the latter is a new capability built into some first-party applications to promote co-working.

Freeform is essentially a whiteboard application that provides users a canvas to add ideas in the form of drawings, images, notes, and diagrams, all in real-time. Edits are tagged with user names, and visual indicators show where changes occur. Users can even start Freeform via FaceTime, with updates shown to participants in a Messages thread.

iPadOS 16 Source: Apple

Collaborate, on the other hand, is built into Messages and Safari in the form of collaborative documents and Shared Tabs. While the former is not called that, users can send invites to others, adding them to a spreadsheet, document, or project as a collaborator. Like with Freeform, changes made will be visible in Message.

In Safari, Shared Tabs can help with research and feature dedicated start pages and the ability for participants to edit information on the go.

Other Features

Display Scaling

iPadOS 16 also introduces Display Zoom for iPads running the M1 Processor. This feature will help adjust the pixel density on the iPad, letting users see more data from their applications. Apple describes it as being extremely handy in scenarios that use Split View.

Reference Mode

an example of reference mode on iPad os 16, with an iPad placed next to Pro Display and MacBook Pro Source: Apple

Another new display feature is Reference Mode — exclusive to the 12.9-inch M1 iPad Pro that lets the iPad display reference-grade color standards for photo and video editing.

Apple Pencil Improvements

iPad mini Long Source: Apple

A few Apple Pencil-related updates were not mentioned during the Keynote but featured on Apple's Update Feature page. The first is Handwriting Straightening in Apple Notes, which will help make the written info more legible.

There is also a marginal improvement to Scribble, which allows users to draw out emojis. Apple didn't mention the expansion of the feature to more languages.

Availability

iPadOS 16 Release Date

Splash Screen that lists the features iPadOS 16 offers Source: Apple

At this time, iPadOS 16 is available for download as a Developer Beta, with a Public Beta scheduled for July. If you're not interested in experimenting with the software — which we advise you shouldn't — iPadOS 16 should be available via a stable OTA update this Fall.

Compatible Devices

While the update is still a few months away, Apple has made available a list of compatible devices, which we've detailed below:

  • iPad (5th generation and later)
  • iPad mini (5th generation and later)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation and later)

Note: Although these iPad models are being updated to iOS 16, they might not feature compatibility with every showcased feature.

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