iPadOS 16.1: new features, supported iPads, everything we know

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If you own a recent iPad, iPadOS 16.1 is something you’re going to want to know about – it’s the next version of Apple’s iPad software, and it’s coming to most iPads later in the year.

This new version of iPadOS was launched at Apple’s annual WWDC 2022 conference, which is where the company shows off its new operating systems – iOS 16 was the biggest upgrade showcased with a new lock screen and more.

iPadOS 16.1 is the fourth generation of the tablet OS since Apple spun it off from its iOS smartphone operating system – although iPadOS 16.1 does share many features in common with iOS 16.

Recently Apple announced that iPadOS 16.1 would instead launch later in 2022 instead, with more time needed to improve upon Stage Manager, its new take on multitasking on the tablet. There’s a rumored release date of October 24, but we’ll be sure to update you as to whether this rings true.

Upgrades include improved collaboration tools, including a new joint markup app, and new features to make the iPad experience closer to that of working on a computer. The public beta is still available, but be aware – it’s an early version so it may be prone to bugs.

Below we’ve covered all the features Apple announced on-stage, as well as details on when iPadOS 16.1 will roll out, and who can get it.

iPadOS 16.1: Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The latest big update for iPads
  • When does it come out? Allegedly October 2022, but the public beta is available
  • How much does it cost? It’s free

iPadOS 16.1 release date

The iPadOS 16.1 developer beta and public betas are already available, but the full rollout will be later this year. In a rare move, Apple delayed iPadOS 16.1 until October in order to give it more polish – with the new Stage Manager feature in particular needing attention.

Stage Manager in iPadOS 16

(Image credit: TechRadar)

iPadOS 16 compatibility

So which iPads will get iPadOS 16? Here’s the official list that Apple has provided.

If you need to check what iPad you have, go into the Settings app, select the About option then find Model Name.

  • iPad (fifth generation) and newer
  • iPad Mini (fifth generation) and newer
  • iPad Air (third generation) and newer
  • Every iPad Pro model

It should come as no surprise that Apple’s current iPad portfolio makes up some of the best tablets in the business but thanks to entries like the 2021 iPad 10.2, even some of the best cheap tablets benefit from the latest and greatest features iPadOS 16.1 has to offer.

iPadOS 16.1 features

Here’s what you need to know about the iPadOS 16.1 update:

iPadOS 16.1 borrowed features

Lots of iPadOS 16.1 features are ones that are primarily iOS 16 features and expanded upon.

Another comes from Apple Maps – you’ll be able to create a route in the app on your iPad and then send it to your iPhone – so you’ll be able to plan a journey more easily on a big screen before viewing it on the smaller one.

You’ll also be able to schedule emails to be sent at a certain time, retract emails you’ve just sent, and set reminders for emails you don’t want to deal with straight away.

Apple’s new Weather app is also coming to iPad and macOS Ventura, expanding on its iOS 14 debut. It showcases an expanded layout, letting you look at more information on the tablet’s display, such as predicted rain, detailed maps for temperature and more.

Another new app coming to iPad is Reference Mode, which is designed to keep your iPad’s screen colors in sync with those of monitors and other displays, which would be useful for color graders – though Apple didn’t go into much detail.

Screenshots from WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Future)

iPadOS 16.1 collaboration features

Improved collaboration features are a big focus for the next iPad update.

Now, when you share a document (from certain apps) with your friends or co-workers, you’ll shared the actual document, rather than a copy of it – this makes it easier for collaborators to make edits together.

You can also use FaceTime to work on these documents with other people, by sharing links and files across the video calling platform. Among other things this should make it super0convenient to use Freeform, another feature which we’ll get to later.

iPadOS 16.1 desktop focus

A new multitasking method is coming to iPadOS in the form of Stage Manager, which gives you desktop-like functionality – you can have overlapping windows, you can move all your background apps to the side to see them in one list, and you can resize windows.

This feature will be available to iPads released from 2018 onwards, barring the iPad mini.

Apple has also pledged to upgrade more first-party apps to make them ‘Desktop-class’, although this seems to involve hundreds of tiny little tweaks, such as different ways to list files or view folders with different icons.

Screenshots from WWDC 2022

(Image credit: Future)

Thanks to Stage Manager, you can finally hook up your iPad to an external monitor. This will allow you to use Ulysses on your iPad for example, while viewing the Photos app on a connected monitor, but this feature has been delayed to a later release.

iPadOS 16

(Image credit: Apple)

iPadOS 16.1 Freeform

An upcoming app called FreeForm was announced, which is coming to iPadOS 16.1, and macOS Ventura later in the year. It’s basically a joint digital message board, or a shared version of the Notes app, so multiple users can sketch and jot down ideas.

In its presentation, Apple showed lots of people drawing loads of different mind maps with sticky notes, colored lines and annotations – the Apple Pencil was shown as a useful tool for contributing to this kind of document.

If you’ve used Google Jamboard, this feels like Apple’s equivalent, although since it works on a stylus-toting tablet it should be a little more convenient to use.

Gaming improvements in iPadOS 16.1

After detailing Mac’s gaming prowess at WWDC 2022, Apple revealed that the iPad will get many of those features too. 

This includes a feature called Metal 3, which automatically upscales gaming footage (basically boosting the framerate and resolution), and it should make iPadOS games feel a little bit more like console alternatives. Now we just need Fortnite back!

However, this also means that other games previously exclusive to the PC and Steam Deck are coming over to Apple’s platforms, with No Mans Sky coming to iPadOS and macOS Ventura soon.

Game Center is getting an activity list, so you can see what your friends are doing – it’s similar to the features that exist in many other game networks like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, so you can see, for example, if someone gets an achievement in a game, or has spent 20 hours playing a certain title.

Finally, it’s now easier to instantly share links with your friends so they can join you in a multiplayer game.

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