Apple’s iPadOS 16 arrives with new multitasking experience for M1 iPads

Apple today announced its next-generation operating systems, and we’ve already covered what’s new in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura. Now let’s turn our attention to iPadOS 16, which, as you might expect, shares a lot of similarities with iOS 16, and gets many of the same features. There’s also some iPad-specific stuff in there, though, and perhaps none more interesting than the new Stage Manager multitasking experience.

This only works on iPads powered by Apple’s M1 chipset, and it organizes apps and windows automatically. It also lets you create overlapping windows of different sizes in a single view, drag and drop windows from the side, or open apps from the dock to create groups of apps for faster multitasking when you need to.

iPadOS 16 Stage Manager
iPadOS 16 Stage Manager

The window you’re currently working on is prominently displayed in the center, while other open apps and windows on the left are arranged in order of recency. Stage Manager also unlocks full support for external displays with resolutions up to 6K. When you connect your M1 iPad to an external monitor in this way, you can work with up to four apps on the iPad and four apps on the external display at the same time.

iPadOS 16 external display support
iPadOS 16 external display support

Moving on, there’s also a new Freeform collaboration app in iPadOS 16, which has a “flexible canvas.” It lets you view, share, and collaborate all in one place without worrying about layouts and page sizes, and it fully supports Apple Pencil. It’s a real-time collaboration canvas and “later this year” people will be able to start a session from FaceTime and see the others’ updates in the Messages thread.

The Mail app now gives you a moment to cancel sending a message and you can also schedule emails. The app will notify you if you’ve forgotten to add an attachment or recipient, there’s a new feature that reminds you of certain messages later, and sent emails are moved to the top of your inbox for quick follow-ups. A new search experience gives you better results by correcting typos and using synonyms for the search terms, and also comes with a richer overview of contacts and shared content.

Mail app in iPadOS 16 gets improved search function
Mail app in iPadOS 16 gets improved search function

Safari is getting shared tab groups so people can collaborate with friends on a series of tabs and see instant updates. You can also share bookmarks, not just tabs, and start a conversation in Safari. Tab groups have special homepages that can be customized with a background image, bookmarks, and some unique sections for everyone to see and edit.

Safari Shared Tab Groups in iPadOS 16
Safari Shared Tab Groups in iPadOS 16

Safari also supports passkeys, which Apple bills as “an easier and more secure login method designed to replace passwords on the web and in apps”. These are unique digital keys that are stored on the iPad and are specific to the sites you create them for. Since they are never stored on a server, they cannot be stolen. You can sign in to websites or apps with your passkey by scanning the QR code with your iPad and then using Face ID or Touch ID to authenticate.

The Weather app comes to iPad with iPadOS 16 and Siri can automatically run app shortcuts, insert emoji when sending messages, and handle more types of requests offline. The Home app has a brand new design and adds support for Matter, a new smart home connectivity standard that allows accessories to work seamlessly across platforms. Notes can straighten your handwriting automatically, and you can lock personal notes with your iCloud password.

Finally, iPadOS 16 has the reference mode for color accuracy, making the 12.9-inch iPad Pro “meet color requirements in workflows such as review and approval, color correction, and composition”. Display Zoom allows you to increase the pixel density of the screen and Virtual Memory Swap uses the storage to expand the available memory by up to 16 GB.

Reference Mode in iPadOS 16
Reference Mode in iPadOS 16

Like iOS 16, iPadOS 16 comes out today in developer preview form, with an open beta coming next month. iPadOS 16 will be available this fall as a free upgrade for iPad (5th generation and later), iPad mini (5th generation and later), iPad Air (3rd generation and later), and all iPad Pro models.

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