Weather app, Stage Manager, and more!

Apple had its annual WWDC in Cupertino this year, and as expected, it announced many new features for one of the most popular selling tablet lines in the world. Three years ago, Apple split iPadOS from iOS to better focus on the larger form factor. Now Apple has launched some new features for iPadOS 16, including a new Weather app, Stage Manager multitasking, and more.

Craig Federighi noted that Apple wants to “create a distinct experience built on the best of iOS, such as security, mobility, and an intuitive touch-first interface with powerful macOS capabilities like multitasking and trackpad support. Combined with features like Apple Pencil that are unique to iPad, it all comes together to deliver our most versatile device.” We’ve already started working on it, so here are all the new features built into iPadOS 16.

iPadOS 16 Release Date and Availability

Developers can start testing the latest betas right away as they were made available immediately after the event. If you are a registered developer, you can download the beta right now. Otherwise, the public betas will roll out in July. Usually, the final version of the software will be available during Apple’s fall event. You can safely assume a period from September to October.

It will be available for the following iPad devices:

  • iPad (5th – 9th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd – 5th generation)
  • iPad Mini (4th and 5th generation)
  • iPad Pro (1st generation and above)

What’s New in iPadOS 16

iPad OS 16
iOS and macOS improvements

Apple photo sharing with multiple family members icons.

First and foremost, Apple pointed out that many of the same features it introduced in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura are also coming to iPadOS 16. These include a shared photo library, shared tab groups, and passkeys in Safari. The Shared Photo Library is an automatic library of photos that are shared between members of your family group and that all family members have access to to add, edit, or delete photos. Photos can be added automatically by date range or by identifying who is in the photos.

In addition, iPadOS gets shared tab groups and login without password. As previously reported, Microsoft, Google, and Apple are all working together to eliminate passwords whenever possible. Apple is fully embracing the concept in its latest versions across all of its platforms.

Back on iPad

Weather app on iPad with iPad OS 16 on gray background

Apple has also introduced a brand new Weather app on the iPad. The new app takes full advantage of the big screen and includes animated wallpapers that reflect current weather conditions. Any module in the weather app can be tapped to provide additional data. Apple is also building WeatherKit APIs for developers to embed Weather into their iPad apps.

Collaboration in iPadOS 16

A man's hand communicates with an iPad.

Collaboration is sharing an original document in real time so that everyone can work on it at the same time. It’s a bit like Google Docs, but what’s nice is that you can start a collaboration via Messages or FaceTime, right from the shared sheet. Just select Collaborate and select the conversation you want to share with. This works in Messages as well as FaceTime.

You can also share tab groups from Safari with the group. Doing so will show you icons in real time of who is looking at which tab. In addition, Apple opens up APIs so that third-party developers can use collaboration if they want to.

free form

Freeform board on iPad

Apple gave us a sneak preview of a new collaboration app called Freeform. Freeform is a large, whiteboard-style collaboration space where a group can all work together using tools similar to those in Notes with various bruises and sticky notes, photos, etc. It’s an infinite space where you use touch to move the interface around. drag and pinch to zoom in and out.

Metal 3 and other gaming improvements

For the first time, iPadOS brings 16 Metal 3 APIs to the iPad. Apple sees iPads as slot machines with Metal 3 hardware-accelerated 3D graphics. In addition, Apple has a new API that allows larger asset packs to be downloaded in the background while you play the game.

With your Game Center account, you can find friends, track progress in different games, and view leaderboards for different games. While gaming on iOS has largely been the domain of phones, Apple is trying to get more gamers on the iPad and these gestures are designed just for that.

Desktop class apps and system-wide features

Craig Federighi stands in front of a presentation board.

Apple is introducing a number of desktop-class apps and system-wide features on the iPad. It’s a comprehensive list, but some of the list they used included Systemwide Undo/Redo, Availability view in Calendar, and the ability to search and merge cards in Contacts. You can also change file extensions and view folder sizes in the Files app.

Apple also has a system-wide search and replace that works in-line. Apple has added a document menu in Files, Pages, and Keynote that allows you to perform common actions. Finally, Apple has added the ability to customize your toolbars in some apps, giving you access to your most used tools.

Stage Manager and Windowed Apps on iPadOS 16

Stage manager is Apple’s new multitasking interface for macOS and is also available on iPadOS 16. Basically, iPadOS 16 lets you create workspaces with overlapping windows that can be moved and resized. Then Stage Manager organizes your apps into different groups and moves them to the side so you can focus on your main task. It’s a quick way to switch between tasks, making your iPad much better at multitasking. Craig Federighi called it “the foundation for a quantum leap in user experience. One that could change the way our professional users do their jobs on iPad.”

Reference color:

Reference mode is only available on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Pro users need accurate colors to complete their work. According to Federighi, “Reference mode meets color requirements in workflows such as review and approval, color correction and composition. Where accurate color and consistent image quality are crucial. Use a standalone device or sidecar.”

M1 improvements

Finally, there are a number of improvements designed to take advantage of the M1 processor in higher-end iPads. You can use display scaling to increase the density of pixels in the display and give you more workspace. You can also swap virtual memory, which means you can use iPad memory as virtual RAM for up to 16GB of virtual memory for demanding apps.

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