iPadOS 16 Rumors: Everything We’re Expecting for the iPad's New Operating System

Apple’s tendency to stick to tradition means we are likely to receive an update to iPadOS this fall, but what will that update look like?

In early June, during the WWDC keynote, Apple is expected to reveal all the new features coming to its various operating systems. Rumors concerning iPadOS 16 point towards particularly exciting new features for iPad users. Here’s everything we know so far, from possible announcement and release dates to some interesting potential features coming to iPadOS 16.

Related: iPhone 14 Release Date & Rumor Roundup

Floating app windows would be a great way to increase multi-tasking on the iPad
Image Courtesy of Apple

iPadOS 16 Release Date Rumors

For those new to the Apple world, the company has traditionally revealed new software and updates at the developer-focused Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, which will take place this year from June 6 to June 10. We can expect that Apple will debut its plans for iPadOS 16 at the conference this summer; but based on the September 2021 release of iPadOS 15, we will likely have to wait a few months after WWDC before we can access the new features. Typically, in between a new operating system’s debut at WWDC and its public release, Apple will allow developers and more adventurous Apple consumers to try out beta versions of the software, testing and correcting for bugs. Without a crystal ball, we can be pretty confident predicting iPadOS 16 to come to the masses in September of 2022.

Which iPads Will Support iPadOS 16?

Although it’s too early to be sure which iPads will support this big software update—especially if some of the new features coming to iPadOS 16 require specific hardware—we can make a few guesses as to which iPads will still be compatible, and which will be kicked to the curb. Considering that the iPad Air 2—a tablet released eight years ago in 2014—can run iPadOS 15, if any iPads do get the chop, it won’t be many. Here’s a complete list of the iPads that support iPadOS 15 for reference:

  • iPad Pro 12.9 (5th gen)
  • iPad Pro 11 (3rd gen)
  • iPad Pro 12.9 (4th gen)
  • iPad Pro 11 (2nd gen)
  • iPad Pro 12.9 (3rd gen)
  • iPad Pro 11 (1st gen)
  • iPad Pro 12.9 (2nd gen)
  • iPad Pro 12.9 (1st gen)
  • iPad Pro 10.5
  • iPad Pro 9.7
  • iPad (9th gen)
  • iPad (8th gen)
  • iPad (7th gen)
  • iPad (6th gen)
  • iPad (5th gen)
  • iPad mini (6th gen)
  • iPad mini (5th gen)
  • iPad mini (4th gen)
  • iPad Air (5th gen)
  • iPad Air (4th gen)
  • iPad Air (3rd gen)
  • iPad Air 2

What to Expect from iPadOS 16

Interactive widgets and widgets on the lock screen for iPadOS 16
Image Courtesy of Apple

The updates that came with iPadOS 15 included some much-needed changes, such as better notification management with the addition of the Notification Summary and Focus modes. iPadOS 15 also brought with it a more stream-lined multi-tasking UI and new Quick Note functionality. But it left a lot to be desired.​​​​​

With the addition of the M1 chip in the 5th-generation iPad Air, the Air now joins a lineup of ridiculously powerful tablets with a less-than-stellar operating system. The biggest complaint we’ve been hearing from iPad users is that, while the M1 chip is a feat of engineering, the operating system is subpar and doesn’t even come close to capitalizing on the tablet’s processing power. However, there are a few rather exciting rumors about what Apple can and might do to improve iPadOS with M1 compatibility.

Fresh Apple Apps

In a recent newsletter, tech journalist and Apple expert, Mark Gurman, revealed that along with the iPadOS update, Apple may be releasing some brand new Apple-native apps to the operating system. While we don't know what those apps will be, any iPad user will tell you that the addition of a native calculator and weather app is at the top of their list. Many users even feel like it's becoming comical at this point, as users have been asking for them for years and most of the third-party competitors don't hold a candle to what could be if those apps were made native to Apple devices. Gurman does not go into much detail, however, so we will just have to wait and see if this desire from Apple consumers is finally fulfilled. 

M1-Native Apps

According to iDropNews, the big new addition to iPadOS 16 will be Mac-level first-party app support. The outlet claims that Apple is planning to launch Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, and xCode for M1-compatible iPads, a huge plus for artists and creatives that could position the iPad as a reasonable alternative to a MacBook.

Floating App Windows

For many iPad users, one of the biggest frustrations has been the lack of a true multi-window multitasking device. While the iPad received some improvement to its user interface with iPadOS 15, self-professed researcher Majin Bu claims that "Apple is developing a smart system for iPadOS," which will supposedly allow apps to operate in full-screen but enable them to "automatically shrink when connected to [a] keyboard and trackpad." If true, this would be an amazing feature that would broaden the scope of the iPad’s usability in the future.

Interactive Widgets & Lock Screen Widgets

Widgets were an extremely fun addition to iOS 14 in 2020 and iPadOS in 2021 and many users would be excited about an update. In a tweet, leaker @LeaksApplePro suggested that iPadOS 16 will release interactive widgets that allow you to control apps right from your Home screen. This feature would be amazing for music apps, weather apps, and the flashlight.

But other rumors report that we may also get widgets on the Lock screen. Apple has very much avoided any maximal changes to the Lock screen over its many years, but this could change with the addition of widgets to the Lock screen in iPadOS 16.

Possible App Icon Redesign

This rumor comes around a lot, but there may be something to it. In the same report from iDropNews that proposed the M1-native apps, it's also suggested that Apple app icons may receive a makeover. According to the report, Alan Dye, VP of Human Interface at Apple, and his team are currently in the midst of developing the new looks and the report claims that the icons will look fairly similar to the macOS Monterey icons.

New M1 native apps could take advantage of the processing power in iPad
Image Courtesy of Apple

Whatever new features we receive for iPadOS 16, we still have a couple of months to dream. WWDC starts in its all-online format June 6. For information on the Spring 2022 event, see our summary of devices announced then. What do you most hope to see from the iPad's new operating system? Let us know in the comments.

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Author Details

Rachel Needell

Rachel Needell is a Feature Web Writer at iPhone Life, a published poet, and a longtime Apple fan. In the spring of 2021, she graduated with her Master’s degree in English, specializing in early 20th-century literature. She is interested in all things tech and currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her cat Blue.