iPadOS 17 is set to upgrade widgets and Stage Manager — here’s why that matters

active widgets on iPadOS 17
(Image credit: Apple)

iOS 17 may have been getting a lot of attention since WWDC, but there are some pretty key changes coming to iPads later this year as part of the iPadOS 17 update. In fact, two pretty major updates are reportedly coming to Apple tablets as a result, with changes to both widgets and the Stage Manager tool.

Perhaps most importantly these changes are crucial in offering a better personalized experience for users, letting them place windows and widgets with more freedom than was offered before. This is pretty important if Apple wants to cement the iPad’s position as a lower-cost productivity-based device. Here’s what you need to know about those changes.

Better and more customizable widgets

Home screen widgets were first launched as part of iPadOS 15, back in 2021, and the 2023 update should make them a lot more useful and practical. The first big change is that those widgets are gaining interactivity, meaning you can use those widgets to perform actions on the home screen — instead of having to open the app first.

iPadOS 17 also offers more home-screen customization, letting you place widgets wherever you like. So unlike iPadOS 15 and 16, you can actually leave blank spaces beside your widgets, and won’t be forced to place everything together.

Considering how big an iPad screen is, and how Apple has been pushing it as an alternative to a laptop over the past few years, it’s certainly needed those improvements to the widgets. Customization, in particular, is key since it allows users to set things up the way they like — and hopefully boost productivity in the process.

More freedom with Stage Manager

Stage Manager may have only launched last year, on iPads and Macs, but it’s already getting an upgrade that should offer more freedom and flexibility in its use. As part of iPadOS 17, users will have a bunch more options when it comes to arranging windows on the screen.

That means users have a lot more freedom when it comes to window size and placement, particularly where overlapping windows are involved. According to a report from MacStories, these changes don’t offer infinite customization, but rather have users choose from an unseen list of preset window sizes — with options differing based on the kind of app in question.

Meanwhile, placement is apparently getting a huge overhaul, letting you place windows almost anywhere you like. Stage Manager will also keep it in place, with no post-placement meddling that was seen in iPadOS 16.

Like the changes to widgets, this is potentially a big change to personal productivity since it allows users to position windows (almost) however they see fit. That ensures everything is where the user wants it, in the size they need, and not where Apple thinks it should go. 

iPadOS 17 is currently available in beta, and is set to be released to the public later this year. You can read all about what's coming to Apple tablets when it officially launches over in our iPadOS 17 hub. 

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.