iPadOS 18: Release date rumors, expected new features and more

iPad Air 5 on a desk
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Artificial intelligence is a hot topic in tech right now, which is why 2024 is the year we expect to see AI crop up on iPads in a big way. 

The centerpiece of that transformation is likely to be iPadOS 18, a new version of Apple's venerable tablet OS that could deliver a host of notable upgrades which make even the best iPads a bit more useful.

The company is rumored to be unveiling both a new iPad Air 2024 and iPad Pro 2024 this year at Apple’s May 7 Let Loose event, at least one of which may come with a new Apple M4 chip onboard. If that pans out, odds are we'll hear about a ton of new AI features in iPadOS 18, since the company is likely keen to talk up how the Neural Engine built into its chips is optimized for AI workloads.

We've heard little more than rumors at this point, but here's everything we know so far about iPadOS 18 and what we expect ahead of Apple's big May event.

iPadOS 18: Rumored release date

Apple september 2021 event

(Image credit: Apple)

Since Apple has yet to publicly confirm that it's even working on iPadOS 18, there is no official release date for the next version of the iPad operating system. 

But we can make a few pretty educated guesses about when you can expect it to arrive. Apple typically talks up the new versions of its operating systems at its summer developer conference, so we expect iPadOS 18 to be unveiled at WWDC 2024 in June. 

If Apple follows its usual roadmap, the first public beta of iPadOS 18 will arrive shortly thereafter, likely in July, with the final version landing sometime in September.

iPadOS 18: Compatibility predictions

iPad Air 5

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Every year some iPads become no longer compatible for the latest version of iPadOS, and iPadOS 18 is likely to be no different. 

We're just guessing, but based on the support curve of iPadOS 16 and iPadOS 17 it seems likely that iPadOS 18 will support the 3rd generation iPad Air and the 2nd generation iPad Pros, along with new models of either iPad. 

What's harder to guess is whether it will also support iPads without Apple's M-series chips inside. The most recent Apple iPad (2022) and Apple iPad mini (2021) still run on the weaker A-series chips (A14 Bionic and A15 Bionic) which powered older iPhones, rather than the M1-M3 chips which newer iPads and MacBooks run on. 

While it's likely that at least some of iPadOS 18's features will be supported on the latest iPad and iPad mini, we'll have to wait and see what Apple has to say about it.

iPadOS 18: Expected new features

Apple iPadOS example screenshot

(Image credit: Apple)

We've heard barely anything yet about what to expect from iPadOS 18 in terms of new features, but there are some rumors worth paying attention to as we wait for official word from Apple.

Most notably, Bloomberg reporter and Apple expert Mark Gurman believes the company will unveil its new M4 chip alongside new iPads at Apple’s Let Loose event, with a focus on talking up their AI capabilities. Gurman claims this could lay the groundwork for Apple to dive deep into the new AI features of now just iPadOS 18, but iOS 18 and perhaps whatever the successor is to macOS Sonoma

Regardless of how AI-centric the next version of iPadOS is, you can count on also hearing about some basic meat-and-potatoes upgrades it will bring to Apple's tablets. We're talking basic stuff like the report that iPadOS 18 could finally give the iPad a calculator app, along with a new calculator app for the Mac itself.

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There's also a good chance we'll see some new iPadOS 18 features which take advantage of new hardware, like the new Apple Pencil 3 that's rumored to be arriving this year. Evidence of code supporting a "squeeze" feature for an unreleased Apple Pencil product was found in code for the iPadOS 17.5 beta, so there's good reason to think iPadOS 18 may ship with some fancy new moves for the Apple Pencil.


There hasn't been an overwhelming amount of innovation on display in iPads over the last few years, so it's understandable to see a lot of excitement around iPadOS 18 this year.

The iPad is one of the best tablets you can buy for browsing the web, watching videos or playing games, but it's struggled to earn a reputation for being much good at anything else. Fans have been trying to use the tablet as their primary computer for years, but the iPad still can't match the utility or versatility of the best laptops and the best MacBooks

The arrival of iPadOS 18 could change all that, since Apple could make a big show of implementing on-device AI in ways that make the iPad a more useful and more versatile device. Near-perfect voice controls and transcription in iPadOS 18 could turn the iPad into a far more capable productivity tool, for example, while AI-powered editing tools could make the tablet the most useful home movie-making machine you've ever owned.

We'll just have to wait and see what Apple has in store for us.

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Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.