iPadOS 16 was announced at WWDC 2022, and it shares much in common with its iPhone counterpart iOS 16. Arriving in September 2022, many of the same improvements are coming to all Apple devices, including the Mac, but there are a few iPad-specific changes to look forward to.
Proper External Display Support
The iPad Pro with M1 chip takes another step toward replacing your MacBook as it now supports resolutions of up to 6K on an external monitor. You can put different apps on an external display for a better multitasking experience, at far greater resolutions. It’s not clear yet whether all displays will be supported, but Apple showed the feature off at WWDC 2022 using its Pro Display XDR.
You can even drag and drop files and windows between your iPad Pro and your external display, just as you would with an external monitor connected to a Mac.
Stage Manager, Just Like macOS 13
External display support is possible thanks to a new feature that’s making its way into both iPadOS 16 and macOS 13 called Stage Manager. The feature allows you to create groups of apps and windows that you can quickly recall using icons on the edge of the screen.
On the iPad, this means you can finally have overlapping windows, much like a Mac. This lets you create a more traditional workspace that’s commonly associated with a desktop operating system. Stage Manager simplifies the process of recalling different groups of apps, and the “Center app” feature lets you keep one app in the middle of the screen without entering full-screen mode and losing track of everything surrounding it.
A New Weather App for iPad
Apple has redesigned its Weather app for iPad, with a design that’s meant to work better on a larger display. The app will also be available on Mac in a largely unchanged state, offering features like weather maps, forecasts by hour, air quality information, and a set of animations to make checking the weather a little more interesting.
There are also notifications for severe weather events that may have been issued near you.
Renewed Emphasis on “Desktop-Class” Apps
The iPad will see a renewed focus on “Desktop-Class” apps in iPadOS 16, which makes sense considering the desktop-like enhancements Apple has been making to the platform in recent years.
This means that toolbars will be customizable, much as they are on macOS. Design language like an easy-to-find Search field that appears in the same place across multiple apps will be adhered to. Tools bar buttons have been redesigned to make features like translate or share easier to find and navigate, and new context menus will provide easier access to common features like save or open in apps like Pages.
Apple is also introducing a system-wide “Find and Replace” feature to iPadOS 16, which should make editing text in emails and documents easier than before. The company is also trying to make the undo and redo options more consistent, introducing them to apps like Files and Photos.
These continued changes, alongside more drastic measures like introducing proper mouse and touchpad support in the latest models, reiterate Apple’s commitment to evolving the iPad into a more productive and work-friendly platform.
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Reference Mode for 12.9-inch iPad Pro
Here’s one for the professionals who use the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. With iPadOS 16, the 12.9-inch model that sports Apple’s Liquid Retina XDR display will be able to display reference color modes for working in photo and video editing. These will work both standalone on iPadOS, and in Sidecar mode when using your iPad as an external display connected to a Mac.
There’s also a new display scaling mode that allows you to change the resolution of your display, for fitting more on-screen (just as you do on a Mac — you may be sensing a pattern here).
iCloud Shared Photo Library
Most of the other iPadOS features are the same as those seen on iOS 16 and macOS 13, which now all run on the same processor architecture and deeply integrate iCloud features. One of these is the iCloud Shared Photo Library, where you can start a shared photo library in addition to your personal library with up to five members of your family.
The feature allows you to share everything or just a few of your photos, with sharing suggestions to help you contribute to a group record. You’ll then get memory notifications for events that feature both your photos and those taken by others, for a more interesting perspective.
Passkeys on iPad to Replace Passwords
Passkeys use public and private keys in a bid to replace passwords in favor of biometric authentication. That means you won’t need to remember passwords in the future since these keys never leave your device and never need to be typed in. iPadOS 16, iOS 16, and macOS 13 include support for this feature, which has been developed by Apple alongside Google and Microsoft.
The feature will enter beta first and start rolling out properly later in the year. Learn more about how passkeys work.
If you use iMessage to talk to other Apple users on your iPad, you’ll now be able to edit and unsend messages within 15 minutes of sending them or bring back deleted messages within 30 days. There’s also a handy new feature to mark messages as unread regardless of where they came from.
You can also now easily share collaboration invites with whole conversations for shared projects like Apple Notes and Pages documents, with updates posted in the same message window. SharePlay invites for synchronized activities like games, watching movies, or listening to music also now make an appearance in Messages.
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A Better Apple Mail Experience
Apple Mail is getting features like “Follow up” (which places sent messages at the top of your inbox, so you can remember to circle back), “Remind Me” (which resurfaces read messages so you can reply in a few days), and smarter search features that suggest corrections in the event of typos. You can also unsend messages for up to 10 seconds after hitting send, which is basically a glorified delay mechanism.
Rather than using a third-party app or webmail service to schedule messages to be sent later, Mail will now let you schedule your messages right from the compose window. Mail will also remind you if you forget to add a recipient or an attachment that you elude to in the message body.
Redesigned Home App
The Home app has been completely redesigned on all platforms so it’s a lot more pleasant to use. This starts with a better underlying architecture that Apple says will make interacting with your connected devices faster and smoother. Devices are now separated into categories (like Lights or TVs), you can see everything at once with a new Home view, and you can even pin up four cameras on the Home tab for immediate viewing.
Apple will also be introducing cross-platform device support when Matter arrives later in the year. It’s also worth remembering Apple’s earlier commitments about HomeKit Secure Video no longer counting against your available iCloud + storage, if you’re thinking of putting up security cameras.
A More Powerful Focus Feature
Focus lets you mute notifications to get work done (or just sleep) in its current form, but it’s getting improvements in iPadOS 16 to make it even more powerful. You’ll soon be able to schedule Focus modes based on a time or place, and even tie Tab Groups to your chosen focus.
Focus filters allow apps like Mail or Calendar to show more relevant information (or hide distractions), with a Focus filter API for third-party developers to integrate the feature into their own apps. Focus will also suggest relevant Home Screen widgets and apps based on your chosen Focus mode, further helping to hide distractions to help you work.
As is the case on iPadOS 15 and other platforms, these changes should carry over between devices thanks to iCloud.
Safari Enhancements Too
Safari gets the usual improvements under the hood, with better support for technologies that power the web. Tab Group Sharing is new, allowing you to share tabs with a group of people and you can now pin tabs within Tab Groups and set group-specific start pages too.
Safari extensions get a lift and now sync between devices over iCloud, with developers getting access to more APIs to create more powerful and interesting extensions. You can also opt-in to web push notifications if your favorite website doesn’t have a suitable iPad app.
A Ton More Enhancements
There’s more to iPadOS 16 than meets the eye, and alongside the usual bug and security fixes, Apple will add more features like a redesigned Game Center dashboard, the ability to recall Wi-Fi passwords in settings, Live Text support in videos, a ton of Siri enhancements, and better controls for managing child accounts with Family Sharing.
Apple didn’t announce a new iPad at WWDC 2022, but the iPad Air was updated with the M1 chip earlier in 2022. Not sure which Apple tablet is for you? Check out our best iPad buying guide.