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iPadOS 16 early rumors and what we want to see

iPad Air 5
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

iPadOS 16 is expected to launch sometime in September 2022. If it’s anything like iPadOS 15, Apple’s tablet operating system update should introduce a number of new features and improvements. Considering how the current iterations of the iPad Pro and iPad Air sport the powerful M1 chip, iPadOS 16 could be the most significant update yet for iPads.

We don’t have much in the way of iPad OS 16 rumors at the moment. But with Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicking off June 6, we expect to hear more about the OS update in the following weeks – alongside updates to the operating systems that run on iPhones, Macs, Apple Watches and Apple TVs.

Here are all the early iPadOS 16 rumors we've heard so far.

iPadOS 16: Release date and beta

Apple has a track record for announcing software updates at WWDC, and we have no reason to believe they'll stop now. This year’s event kicks off on June 6 and lasts until June 10. We expect the company to officially unveil iPadOS 16 at that time.

iPadOS 15 from WWDC 2021

iPadOS 15 in use with Quick Notes. (Image credit: Apple)

In accordance with previous years, Apple will likely release a beta version of iPadOS 16 to developers and some members of the public during the summer, not long after WWDC wraps up. 

The company should release regular updates during that timeframe as it works out bugs, and we’ll likely see iPadOS 16 release sometime in September, just like iPadOS 15 did in September 2021. Beta and official release dates are always subject to change at Apple's whim, but we believe this is how things will play out.

iPadOS 16: Compatibility and supported devices 

We can’t say which iPads will support iPadOS 16, but we can reasonably assume tablets like the latest iPad Pro and iPad Air will support the firmware update. The big question is which of the older iPads will be incompatible with iPad OS 16. 

As Tech Advisor notes, 2014’s iPad Air 2 supports iPadOS 15. As such, iPadOS 16 could potentially work on iPads released within the past 7 to 8 years. But we can’t say for certain right now, so don't take our expectations as truth.

Not sure if your iPad will work with the next version of iPadOS? We aren't either, but we can share the list of iPads that work with the current version of iPadOS 15. So if your iPad isn't on this list, it almost certainly won't support iPadOS 16.

  • 10.2-inch iPad 2020 aka 8th generation iPad (and back to the 5th gen 2017 model)
  • All iPad Pro models including:
  • iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch)
  • iPad Pro 2021 (11-inch)
  • The iPad Air 2020 (4th generation), 3rd gen. and 2nd gen.
  • iPad mini (4th and 5th generation)

iPadOS 16: New features for M1-powered iPads 

We haven’t heard much about what new features we can expect in iPadOS 16. Since the latest iPad Pro and iPad Air tablets have the Apple M1 chip, we at least hope iPadOS 16 will introduce features that take advantage of the powerful processor.

According to a report from iDropNews, xCode, Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro are making their way to iPads. The caveat is that these apps are expected to only run on iPads with an M1 chip, namely the iPad Pro 2021 and the iPad Air 2022. While we can't say for sure whether Apple is taking this tack, bringing these long-requested apps over to iPadOS would be a welcome move that could help creatives be more productive with just an iPad.

Apple M1 chip

We want iPadOS 16 to fully leverage the power of the M1 chip. (Image credit: Apple)

The site also claims iPadOS 16 will have the same Lock Screen and Home Screen redesign expected in iOS 16. Widgets may also find their way to the Lock Screen.

Elsewhere, tipster Majin Bu tweeted that Apple is working on a smart system named Apple Mixer that will introduce floating app windows similar to desktop operating systems like macOS and Windows.

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As the tweet says, apps will open in full screen but automatically shrink when you connect a keyboard and trackpad. While the tipster in question is unsure whether iPadOS 16 will have this feature at launch, they seem confident that it will be exclusive to iPads with an M1 chip.

iPadOS 16: What we'd like to see 

We were generally pleased with iPadOS 15 due to its multitasking button and how it incorporated widgets into the home screen. Keyboard shortcuts and the floating Quick Note window also made the OS feel closer to macOS. iPadOS 15 is great, but we expect iPadOS 16 to be even better. These are a few things the operating system can do to improve the iPad experience.

Leveraging the M1 chip

As with iPadOS 15, we want to see iPadOS 16 take full advantage of the M1 chip housed within the iPad Pro and iPad Air. Though iPads don't necessarily need macOS features and apps, it couldn't hurt to have them — especially for people who are always on the go. The M1 is a desktop and laptop chip, so why not have the same features found on Macs and MacBooks?

Interactive widgets

A leaker named @LeaksApplePro tweeted that iOS 16 may introduce interactive widgets that let you interact with widget shortcuts without going to the actual app. The leaker in question was talking about iOS 16, but we wouldn't mind having interactive widgets in iPadOS 16. Widgets on the Lock Screen would be great as well.

iPadOS 15

(Image credit: Future)

A smoother Magic Keyboard experience

The Apple Magic Keyboard turns the iPad Pro and iPad Air into halfway decent laptops, though they certainly aren't proper laptop replacements.

iPadOS 16 could make using the Magic Keyboard's trackpad (particularly its on-screen cursor) feel more intuitive. The current experience isn't terrible, but it's clear that iPadOS 15 is a tablet operating system first and foremost. We'd like to see iPadOS 16 make the dream of turning one's iPad into a laptop into a reality.

Tony Polanco
Tony Polanco

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.