The iPad received a lot of love from Apple during the WWDC keynote this year. Even though there were no new hardware announcements, iPadOS 16 is a bit of an overhaul for Apple’s tablet-focused operating system.
The headline addition? Stage Manager. iPad users have begged Apple for years for the ability to multitask with overlapping, windowed apps as you would on a Mac. Stage Manager is an entirely new hybrid UI that combines the best of mobile—and desktop—interfaces in a single slate.
When enabled, a vertical dock appears along the side of the tablet allowing for the grouping of applications in the main window, which even includes resizable windows. Apps can also be opened from the dock. Stage Manager places the active window/app prominently in the center while the other open apps and their respective windows are arranged on the left side of the tablet in order of recency, according to Apple.
In Stage Manager you can window up to four apps at a time. And if you’re connected to an external display, you can have four apps open on both the display and the iPad itself—it’s not just a mirrored display anymore. Stage Manager was another rumor-come-true but, looks a bit different than we first guessed. On the iPad, a traditional menubar is not present compared to its macOS counterpart.
Full-featured external display support
External displays have been rethought on the iPad and now deliver a much more desktop-like experience most importantly including native display resolution support, so no more ugly pillar-boxes on external monitors.
Another cool, new, pro-focused features Reference Mode. iPadOS 16 brings new powerful features that make iPad Pro an indispensable tool for creative professionals. This enables someone editing video footage to use the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and its extremely accurate Liquid Retina XDR display as a reference monitor, matching the color requirements in workflows like review and approve, color grading, and compositing.
New collaboration features
Apple is encouraging iPad users to collaborate more with colleagues through its native Messages app. The app now supports sending invitations to collaborate on files in Keynote, Numbers, Pages, Notes, Reminders, Safari and third-party apps as well. Invitations have support for full threads of recipients, and the app notes changes to shared docs at the top of the thread.
Beyond the updates to Messages, Apple has also added a new real-time collaboration canvas called Freeform. The app is almost like Zoom with a whiteboard. As you FaceTime with teammates, you can see, share, and collaborate on the live canvas that takes center stage.
Finally: The Weather app
One of the weirdest Apple things of all Apple things ever was Apple’s exclusion of the Weather app that has been present on the iPhone from day one, from the iPad. Even after they added a weather widget, when you tapped the widget, it opened the Weather Channel website in Safari. Well, our long national nightmare is over. Apple has finally built a version of the Weather app just for iPad.
iPadOS 16 Supported Devices
There’s a bit of bad news in terms of Stage Manager support. Supported iPadOS 16 devices are split into two tiers. While iPads with an A9 CPU or better will receive iPadOS 16, the Stage Manager feature will only be available on iPads sporting an M1 processor.
- iPad (6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th generation)
- iPad Air (3rd, 4th, and 5th generation)
- iPad Mini (5th and 6th generation)
- iPad Pro (all models)
Supported Devices with Stage Manager Support:
- iPad Air 5th generation
- iPad Pro 5th generation