Why Apple Might Delay iPadOS 16 Release To October

The iPadOS 16 software update for Apple's line of tablets could be delayed by roughly a month while the company refines some of the most ambitious features to be brought to the iPad since its inception. The upcoming software release was previewed in June at the Worldwide Developers Conference, an event held every summer to showcase the new changes coming to Apple's software. The reveal of iPadOS 16 was right on schedule, as was the release of the developer beta software period, which allows developers to test out the new software before a full public rollout. Now, the company's annual September release schedule is in jeopardy as it prepares to make the biggest changes to the iPad's user-interface in its history.


Apple recently shifted its marketing strategy for the iPad to better reflect the direction where the tablet is trending. The iPad is not a laptop or computer replacement, but an alternative to those traditional devices. To successfully be an alternative to a traditional computer, Apple's flagship tablets must be able to handle professional tasks and workflows. The company began making this a reality with the addition of laptop-class chips to the iPad — the iPad Air and Pro both contain the same M1 systems-on-a-chip (SoC) that are found on the last-generation 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Despite the raw processing power, the iPad's software wasn't built to optimize the performance gains for professional workflows. Apple sought to change this with iPadOS 16, but it is these very changes that might delay its release.

Related: The iPad Is Finally ‘Pro’ With Stage Manager

These overarching changes to the iPadOS user-interface are likely to delay the software's release by about a month, according to reputable Apple leaker Mark Gurman of Bloomberg. This would create a rare separation between the release of iOS and iPadOS, which are both typically released sometime in September. It was only a few years ago that Apple separated its mobile software into distinct versions for iPhone and iPad to better optimize them for the different devices, so they have always been released side by side. However, the breadth of change to the software might delay its release, and it would better line up with the release of M2-equipped iPads that are expected to be announced in the fall.

iPadOS 16 Changes Worth Waiting For

Stage Manager's external display support in iOS 16.

iPadOS 16 is arguable the biggest overhaul to the iPad's user-interface ever, with widespread changes to how the tablet can be utilized for professional workflows and multitasking. The move centers around Stage Manager, a new feature coming to both iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura. Stage Manager brings multi-window support to the iPad in a way that maximizes usability through the tablet's touch-first interface. Up to four different applications can be opened on an iPad with Stage Manager at a given time, and different workspaces can be hot-swapped with a sidebar. When an external display is connected, iPadOS will fill the external display and the extra space can be used to house four additional windows — bringing the total to eight between an iPad and an external display.

The processing power is definitely there on the iPad Air and Pro — its M1 chips run the full version of macOS on the MacBook Air and Pro — but the massive redesign to the iPad's user-interface requires a lot of development and refinement. The addition of Stage Manager and the feature's complexity in relation to prior versions of iPadOS is the reason for the expected delay, according to Gurman. It's not the only feature that is holding the traditional release schedule back — iOS 16's Live Activities feature won't ship on the initial rollout, Apple has already confirmed.