iPadOS 16: This update turns the iPad into a MacBook replacement

NextPit iPadOS 16 2022
© NextPit

The iPadOS 16 is finally available! In addition to a weather app, it is possible to use true multitasking with a floating window on the iPad for the first time. However, this feature is not available on all iPad models. In the article, we summarize what you need to know about the new Apple iPadOS 16.

Apple's update to iPadOS is a turning point for the electronics giant's product range. Because with the new Stage Manager, Apple is bringing real multitasking to its tablet PCs. This makes selected models a strong alternative to the company's own MacBook models, especially in combination with a keyboard as an accessory.

Since this is a particularly exciting update, we have summarized all the new features for you on one page. You'll find the same in the linked overviews for iOS 16 and watchOS 9. If you want to install the new iPadOS directly, jump straight to our paragraph on the release of the new operating system.

Jump to:

New features in iPadOS 16

Stage Manager for M1 iPads

Let's start with the biggest feature that iPadOS 16 brings to iPads. With the Stage Manager you can use a new window management in the future, which is also introduced in macOS 13. With this, one window moves to the center of the screen, while all other applications move in batches to the left side of the screen.

Apple emphasizes with Stage Manager that you can group applications that you want to use at the same time. For example, you need to transfer a text from Safari to a Photoshop image—so you need these apps side by side. At the same time, though, you need to communicate with a client via email. Thanks to Stage Manager, you can switch between the app pair and your mail program.

Apple iPadOS 16 screenshot showing how the Stage Manager feature works
Stage Manager finally brings real multitasking to the iPad! / © NextPit

What makes Stage Manager special, however, is the ability to open up to eight programs in windows at the same time. You can resize and move them freely on the display, just like on a desktop PC. Since iPads are only available with a maximum of 12.9 inches, you can also use the feature with an external display. According to Apple, displays with a maximum of 6k are supported thanks to M1.

In combination with a keyboard cover, your iPad might become a better MacBook alternative—but with one big limitation: Stage Manager can only be used on iPad models with the powerful M1 SoC. It's a pity, but Apple probably wants to ensure the performance of the iPads this way.

The Weather app

The next "big" feature is actually quite small: Apple brings its own weather app to the iPad. If you've been using Apple's tablets for a while, you know that it hasn't been ported to iPadOS yet. If you already want to see weather information on the iPad, you can find an overview of the best weather apps in the linked article.

Screenshots displaying how the Weather App display more info on iPad now
Just like iOS 16, iPadOS 16 also brought new features when it comes to the Weather app: the more information the better! / © NextPit

Freeform and new collaboration features

Apple sorted out the presentation of new features for collaborative work at the iPad event—so we're including it here as well. The reason for this is certainly the new application "Freeform", which is a kind of digital whiteboard. You can create graphics, mind maps and link all kinds of documents on it with the Apple Pencil.

The Apple Pencil 2 also shows what to expect before touching it in the iPad Pro 2022.
Freeform is a tool for collaborative work. / © NextPit

From now on, Apple will not send documents as copies, but will grant other Apple users access to them. As with documents in Google Drive, you can then work together on the file and do not have to merge different versions afterwards.

Reference mode and display zoom

Since Apple's products are often used in creative jobs, the company has introduced two new display features. The reference mode is supposed to bring you a constant color fidelity on the tablet when you work with a MacBook or a Mac including an Apple monitor. Unfortunately, the mode is only available on the Liquid Retina XDR display of the iPad Pro 12.9".

The display zoom, on the other hand, changes the pixel density on iPads with M1 chip. This allows you to see more screen content on the tablet, which should be especially helpful in split view. This is where it becomes crucial how you can activate the feature. If Apple comes up with a gesture, the display zoom could be really handy to briefly show more information in apps.

Apple iPad Pro
Only devices packaged with the M1 processor have the display zoom feature. / © NextPit

Apps on desktop level

If you use both a Mac and an iPad, you know that Apple usually restricts its apps to make them clear on the smaller displays. With Desktop level apps, select apps are meant to be more like full-fledged apps. As an example, you can see folder sizes in the Finder or configure taskbars in the Mail app.

A rather small feature, but one that I wanted to mention. This brings Apple's iPads closer to the MacBooks.

Other features from iOS 16

In addition to the iPad—or Mac—exclusive features, there are other innovations that Apple carries over from iOS 16. Among them, the new possibilities in Live Text or the extended functions for the Messages app. Since we have already published a large overview of iOS 16, I will refer you to it at this point:

Availability: Which iPad models will get iPadOS 16?

Even though many new features in iPadOS 16 will remain exclusive to the M1 models, the new operating system is coming to quite a few models. Apple describes the availability as follows:

  • iPad Pro: All models.
  • iPad Air: Third generation and newer.
  • iPad: Fifth generation and newer.
  • iPad mini: Fifth generation and newer.

Not sure if your model will get the update? No problem: look into NextPit's iPadOS 16 update guide and learn how to check which model you have and how to access the software update settings.

Release date: When will the new operating system be available?

Past the beta testing phase of iPadOS 16, Apple finally began shipping the official update package on October 24. So if your iPad is eligible for the new version, the update should arrive via OTA (Over-the-Air). If this does not happen, click on Settings > Software Update.

That's it for our overview of iPadOS 16! What features do you like the most so far? Do you think the Stage Manager turns the iPad in a better MacBook alternative?

Benjamin Lucks

Benjamin Lucks

Ben has been working in tech journalism since 2018, was a freelancer in the middle of the CoVid-crisis and has been full-time at NextPit since November '20. Since then he has tries to find the right mix between professional competence, humor and fresh perspectives in reviews and texts.

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