iPadOS 16 supercharges iPad with windowing

Apple today previewed iPadOS 16, a major update that makes the iPad experience even more versatile. Taking advantage of the power of the M1 chip, Stage Manager brings a new way to multitask with multiple overlapping windows and full external display support.

iPadOS 16 introduces a new multitasking experience, new ways to collaborate with others, and new features for pro users that take advantage of the power of the M1 chip.
iPadOS 16 introduces a new multitasking experience, new ways to collaborate with others, and new features for pro users that take advantage of the power of the M1 chip.

Collaboration is easier than ever with new ways to start working with others in apps across the system using Messages, and the new Freeform app provides a flexible canvas to brainstorm on together. New tools in Mail help users be more productive, Safari adds shared Tab Groups to browse the web with others, and the browsing experience gets even more secure with passkeys. The new Weather app takes full advantage of the stunning iPad display, and Live Text now interacts with text in video. New pro features — including Reference Mode and Display Zoom — make iPad an even more powerful mobile studio. Combined with the power of Apple silicon, iPadOS 16 makes it faster and easier to get more done on iPad.

“iPad is our most versatile device, and we’re excited to take what it can do even further with iPadOS 16,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “With Stage Manager, which takes multitasking on iPad to a whole new level, plus new ways to share and collaborate via Messages, Safari, and the new Freeform app, and new pro features like Reference Mode and Display Zoom, users can get even more done on iPad.”

New Ways to Share and Connect in Messages

New features in Messages make it easy to start collaborating and manage shared content across Files, Keynote, Numbers, Pages, Notes, Reminders, and Safari, as well as third-party apps. When users send an invitation to collaborate via Messages, everyone on the thread is automatically added to the document, spreadsheet, or project. When someone makes a change to a shared file, everyone can see updates right at the top of the Messages thread. And when a user is working on a collaborative project, they can easily jump into the associated Messages conversation or just tap to start a FaceTime call with their collaborators.

Messages brings users new ways to be productive while working with others.
Messages brings users new ways to be productive while working with others.

iPadOS 16 makes everyday messaging even better. Users can now edit or recall recently sent messages, recover recently deleted messages, and mark conversations as unread so they can come back to them later.1 Additionally, users can now begin a SharePlay session via Messages, so they can choose a shared activity — like a movie, TV show, workout, or game — and enjoy it together in sync while chatting via Messages.

A Real-Time Collaboration Space Using Freeform

Freeform, a powerful new collaboration app with a flexible canvas, gives users the ability to see, share, and collaborate all in one place without worrying about layouts and page sizes, and with full support for Apple Pencil. Users can view others’ contributions as they add content or make edits, all while enjoying a real-time collaboration space. Coming to iPadOS 16 later this year, Freeform allows collaborators to start a session from FaceTime and see the updates from others right in the Messages thread.

With full support for Apple Pencil, Freeform gives users the ability to see, share, and collaborate in real time on a flexible canvas.

Mail Introduces New Smart Tools

Being more productive is easier than ever with new tools introduced in Mail. Users are given a moment to cancel delivery of a message before it reaches a recipient’s inbox,2 schedule emails to be sent at the perfect moment, and move sent emails to the top of their inbox to quickly send a follow-up. Messages can also be resurfaced at any date and time with Remind Later, and users can get notified if they forget to include an important part of the message, like an attachment or recipient. Additionally, an all-new search experience delivers more complete and accurate results by correcting typos and using synonyms for the search terms, and allows users to see a richer view of contacts, shared content, and more.

Relive Memories with the New iCloud Shared Photo Library

iCloud Shared Photo Library is the easiest way to share photos seamlessly and automatically among up to six family members, so everyone can collaborate and enjoy the collection in Memories, Featured Photos, and the Photos widget. Users can share all their past photos, or use setup tools to contribute specific photos based on a start date or people in the photos. Photos can be added to the collection manually, or through Bluetooth proximity or sharing suggestions in For You. When anyone in the Shared Library adds, edits, or deletes photos, the library is updated for everyone.

New Collaboration and Security Features Come to Safari

Safari gets big updates, making it even more collaborative, customizable, and secure. Shared Tab Groups allow users to collaborate on a set of tabs with friends and see updates instantly while they work together, share tabs and bookmarks, and start a conversation right from Safari. Tab Groups get dedicated start pages that can be customized with a background image, bookmarks, and unique sections everyone can see and edit.

Browsing in Safari is even more secure with passkeys, an easier and safer sign-in method designed to replace passwords on the web and in apps. Passkeys are kept on iPad and are specific to the sites users create them for. And since passkeys are unique digital keys that stay on device and are never stored on a web server, hackers can’t leak them or trick users into sharing them. Users can sign in to websites or apps on Apple and non-Apple devices with their saved passkey by scanning the QR code with iPad, and using Face ID or Touch ID to authenticate.

Shared Tab Groups allow users to share a collection of sites in Safari with friends and family, making it easy to add tabs and see what others are viewing at the same time.
Shared Tab Groups allow users to share a collection of sites in Safari with friends and family, making it easy to add tabs and see what others are viewing at the same time.

The Weather App (Finally!) Comes to iPad

Designed to take full advantage of the stunning display, Weather comes to iPad with beautiful animations. With just a tap, users can see the most important weather information, or explore maps to check precipitation, air quality, and temperature. Users can also be notified when a severe weather alert is issued in their area, or check the air quality using a color-coded scale.

The Weather app comes to iPad, allowing users to access detailed weather information with just a tap.
The Weather app comes to iPad, allowing users to access detailed weather information with just a tap.

Live Text and Visual Look Up Get Powerful Updates

Using on-device intelligence, Live Text recognizes text in images across the system, and the feature now comes to video, making text completely interactive in paused video frames. With a single tap on a video, users can quickly translate languages or convert currencies. And Visual Look Up now allows users to lift the subject from an image or isolate a subject by removing the background with just a tap, and expands its recognition capabilities to birds, insects, statues, and more.

Pro Features Take Demanding Workflows Even Further

iPadOS 16 brings new powerful features that make iPad Pro an indispensable tool for creative professionals. Reference Mode enables the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Liquid Retina XDR display to match the color requirements in workflows like review and approve, color grading, and compositing, where accurate colors and consistent image quality are critical.

Powered by the performance of the Apple-designed M1 chip, Display Zoom now allows users to increase the pixel density of the display so they can view more in their apps, which is especially useful when using Split View. With Virtual Memory Swap, iPad storage can be used to expand the available memory for all apps, and delivers up to 16 gigabytes of memory for the most demanding apps, helping to make multitasking absolutely seamless.

Reference Mode provides a consistent reference workflow across devices, making iPad Pro an indispensable tool for creative professionals.

Powerful Multitasking with Stage Manager and Full External Display Support

Stage Manager is an entirely new multitasking experience that automatically organizes apps and windows, making it quick and easy to switch between tasks. For the first time on iPad, users can 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, more flexible multitasking. The window of the app users are working on is displayed prominently in the center, and other open apps and windows are arranged on the left-hand side in order of recency.

With Stage Manager, users can create overlapping windows of different sizes, drag and drop windows from the side, and open apps from the Dock to create groups.

Available on iPad Pro and iPad Air with the M1 chip, Stage Manager also unlocks full external display support with resolutions of up to 6K, so users can arrange the ideal workspace, and work with up to four apps on iPad and four apps on the external display.

With full external display support, Stage Manager allows users to arrange their ideal workspace and work with up to eight apps simultaneously.
With full external display support, Stage Manager allows users to arrange their ideal workspace and work with up to eight apps simultaneously.

Additional iPadOS 16 Features

• Dictation offers a new on-device experience that allows users to easily move between voice, touch, and Scribble with Apple Pencil. Users can type with the keyboard or write with Scribble, tap in the text field, move the cursor, and insert QuickType suggestions, all without needing to stop Dictation. Dictation also features automatic punctuation and emoji dictation.

• Siri adds the ability to automatically run shortcuts from apps, with no setup required. Users can now insert emoji when sending messages with Siri, and can skip the confirmation step when sending messages by enabling the feature in Settings. Siri can now process more types of requests offline without an internet connection, and users can now hang up a call completely hands-free by simply saying “Hey Siri, hang up.”

• The Home app gets an all-new design that makes it easier to navigate, organize, view, and control smart home accessories at a glance, as well as Matter support, a new smart home connectivity standard that allows compatible accessories to work together seamlessly across different platforms, and provides more choice and interoperability, all while maintaining the highest level of security.

• Desktop-class apps enable new capabilities optimized for the iPad display, from system elements and interactions to new features available on Mac, including a consistent undo and redo experience across the system, a redesigned find-and-replace experience, customizable toolbars, the ability to change file extensions and view folder size in Files, and more.

• Apple News introduces My Sports, allowing users to follow their favorite teams, leagues, and athletes, and see curated and personalized stories from hundreds of the best local, national, and international sports publications, all in one app.

• Notes allows users to create neater handwritten notes with the ability to automatically straighten the handwriting, use their iCloud password to lock personal notes, add screenshots in Quick Note, and take organization even further with powerful Smart Folders and filtering capabilities.

• Handoff in FaceTime allows users to start a FaceTime call on one of their Apple devices and seamlessly hand it off to another Apple device nearby. When switching to a different device, the connected Bluetooth headset transitions simultaneously so users don’t miss any of the conversation.

• New accessibility tools include Live Captions in FaceTime;7 a new Magnifier mode that delivers richer descriptions of the surroundings;8 Hover Text, which helps users to easily read input fields, menu items, button labels, and other text on iPad; support for over 20 additional languages in VoiceOver and Spoken Content; and more.

• Later this year, Game Center will introduce a redesigned dashboard that allows a player to see which games friends are playing, as well as their achievements and high scores across games, in one place, and with SharePlay integration, a player will be able to start playing multiplayer games with friends automatically on a FaceTime call.

The Home app makes it easier for users to navigate, organize, and view their accessories, as well as control their smart home.
The Home app makes it easier for users to navigate, organize, and view their accessories, as well as control their smart home.


The developer preview of iPadOS 16 is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting today, and a public beta will be available to iPadOS users next month at beta.apple.com. New software features will be available this fall as a free software update for iPad (5th generation and later), iPad mini (5th generation and later), iPad Air (3rd generation and later), and all iPad Pro models. For more information, visit apple.com/ipados/ipados-preview. Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages.

MacDailyNews Take: iPad finally grows up! That windowing, along with the Weather app, took 16 versions to arrive is stupefying, but they’re (almost) here now, so let’s just rejoice!

Please help support MacDailyNews. Click or tap here to support our independent tech blog. Thank you!

Shop The Apple Store at Amazon.


  1. I think this iPadOS is gimmicky and I’m done with it. Back to a MacBook Pro for me. For a device with a desktop class M1 chip there really is no point in all this computing power when the software does jack squat.

    1. It is a gimmick, it’s more fun to use for web browsing and other general tasks but even the iPhone is more practical for reading and of course photography. Tried as I might over the past year to make my iPad a serviceable Mac complement (not even replacement) the artificial limitations make it a waste of time. Nothing special, just word processing/dictionary app/PDFs/Safari. iPads are Apple Netbooks.

      I just learned that the windowing feature is limited to M1 iPads and the latest iPad Air. This type of multitasking has been available on Macs going back 20+ years, F#@k Apple.

  2. The windowing is better than nothing, but it just looks like an updated app switcher to me. It’s still perfectly in line with Apple’s iterative, treat iPad users like babies approach. Stage Manager and the Dock now rob you of about a quarter of your screen real estate. It’s all about selling MacBook Airs now.

    1. As you may know, Apple is experiencing manufacturing limitations on its iPads. So, with a dearth of hardware available to sell, of course Apple is going to put more people on Mac development for now. This makes sense.

      I do agree that the iPad is and always has been a very limiting consumer device. No matter how hard Apple and even MDN attempted to spin it, the Mac has ALWAYS been the vastly more efficient and rewarding OS for creative or office work. Or file management. Or heavy computation. Or software coding. Or any media editing. Or …. just about anything besides touchscreen games, which appears to be the only thing Apple is pushing on the iOS app store these days. Unfortunately, Apple is addicted to App store game revenue so you ought to know what users Apple will focus on for that platform. It is babysitting electronics. If you aspire to do anything besides waste time, just stick to the Mac, or Linux, or even Windows. All are 1000% better than iOS for getting stuff done.

      Hopefully Apple and users will embrace the Mac again and maybe even gain more than a single digit market share.

      1. Well said. The pivot away from the iPad well preceded the current manufacturing issues though. I believe the increased margins in Macs because of Apple Silicon is the driving factor in the shift and this has been part of Apple’s roadmap for years.

        I came across this article recently from last August that sums it up well: http://www.applenewsnet.com/blog/2021/8/20/the-solution-to-all-my-ipad-pro-issues-is-the-macbook-air

        I’ve always appreciated the Mac, but the roundabout way that Apple first sidelined it, pulled a bait and switch with the iPad promoting it as the future of computing and then neutered its potential with software, and then made a hard U-turn back to the Mac with Apple Silicon, makes me not want to give them more of my money. I’ll just keep making the most of my 2013-2015 MacBooks for now and utilize my 2020 iPad Pro in the way it was designed, as a tablet. Dramatically increased processing speeds are the only really attractive feature of the new machines for me, but even that isn’t too important for what I need them for, my “old” Macs are still plenty fast.

  3. I’m not sure people realize how big a deal virtual memory swap is. It means iPad can finally do work you have to walk away from while it finishes. I have some files my A12Z iPad Pro can’t even open. This is much bigger than window dressings. I am sold.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.