iPadOS 16 Preview – iPad Compatibility

iPadOS 16 is slated to be released laster this fall and, like previous iPadOS releases, there is always the question of which iPad models will work with the new version. Fortunately Apple has made a clear list of which devices will work with iPadOS 16 and, the good news, the list is short because almost every iPad from the past few years will be able to use the new iPadOS version. But, there is a caveat and it is a big one for some.

First, here is the compatibility list of iPad models that will be able to run iPadOS 16

  • iPad Pro (all models)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad (5th generation and later)
  • iPad mini (5th generation and later)

Now for that caveat. One of the biggest, if not the single biggest feature of this release is Stage Manager. Stage Manager, for those who may not remember, allows for the first time windowing of apps on you iPad to give a more desktop-like experience. You can cluster apps and files together and with a single tap, open that whole group in windows, not just in full screen like you do today in iPadOS 15.

iPadOS 16 Stage Manager (Image Courtesy of Apple)
iPadOS 16 Stage Manager (Image Courtesy of Apple)

Stage Manager will only be available for M1 powered iPad Pros. If you have an iPad mini or standard iPad, it will not be available to you. Further, if you have a non-M1 iPad Pro, it will not be available. This caused a kerfuffle to say the least amongst iPad owners, especially those who had iPad Pros from just two years ago. So why? It’s pretty simple actually. The M1 has the architecture and memory to be able to run Stage Manager while non-M1 SoC’s don’t have the grunt to make it work.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Apple’s Craig Federighi outline gave a clear and precise answer to the controversy

It’s only the M1 iPads that combined the high DRAM capacity with very high capacity, high-performance NAND that allows our virtual memory swap to be super fast. Now that we’re letting you have up to four apps on a panel plus another four – up to eight apps to be instantaneously responsive and have plenty of memory, we just don’t have that ability on the other systems

— Craig Federighi

iPadOS 16 will be available later this year.

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