Apple is expected to unveil iPadOS 17 at its Worldwide Developers Conference, WWDC 2023, and the software update is set to bring changes to the company’s first-party apps and improvements to the overall experience of using your favorite iPads.
Though the Android counterpart of iPadOS 17, Android 14, also targets big-screen devices, Apple’s greatest strength is its rate and breadth of developer uptake of its features. The company is expected to make its case at WWDC 2023 to developers ahead of the September release of iPadOS 17 to new and existing iPads.
Though Apple hasn’t said anything about iPadOS 17 yet, we already have some idea of what it could look like due to possible overlap with iOS 17 via rumors and past release patterns. We’ve rounded up the latest info below and we’ll update this article as more rumors and reports emerge, so make sure to check back!
iPadOS 17: cut to the chase
- What is it? Apple’s next big iPad update
- When will it be announced? WWDC 2023 on June 5
- How much does it cost? It’ll be a free upgrade
- What iPads are supported? Currently unknown, possibly iPads from the fifth generation and newer
iPadOS 17: release date, announcement, and availability
iPadOS 17 is expected to be announced at WWDC 2023 on June 5, alongside iOS 17 (for iPhones). Once announced and detailed, Apple will likely begin a beta testing period, where developers and enthusiasts alike can try out either the developer preview or beta releases on their own devices, ahead of its formal release later this year.
iPadOS 17 is expected to be released in or around September, again alongside iOS 17. Whether it comes in tandem with a new iPad or iPad Pro is as yet unknown.
iPadOS 17: supported iPads and compatibility
There have been no official reports about which iPad models are supported, as yet. Apple currently issues iPadOS 16 updates to all iPads from the iPad fifth generation and later, the iPad Air third generation and newer, the iPad Mini fifth generation and newer, and all iPad Pros.
Some rumors claim that Apple may keep these iPads supported for another year, while others claim the first generation of iPads Pro may be dropped with the release of iPadOS 17. At least all of the current best iPads can be expected to carry on for another year or more.
iPadOS 17: rumored features
Apple’s iPadOS is not always one-to-one with iOS in terms of features, but sometimes there is overlap. We’ve heard a bit about iOS 17 on the grapevine already, and while not every feature is likely coming to the iPad (we can’t imagine Apple Wallet being a priority), there are some features that could arrive on the iPad, when iPadOS 17 is announced.
Here’s what we’ve heard could be coming to iPadOS this year.
iPadOS 17: third-party app stores
Apple is thought to be bringing app sideloading – when a user downloads apps by any method other than the App Store, such as websites and third party app-stores – to the iPhone and iPad, in preparation for new EU regulations that go into force in 2024. This means that buyers of Apple’s mobile devices – including the iPad – might be able to install apps from sources beyond the App Store (this functionality may only be available in Europe, however).
It’ll be one of the biggest changes to Apple’s mobile platforms in years, and wlll bring the iPad up to par with other tablet operating systems, such as the best Windows tablets and the best Android tablets, when it comes to software support. Both Windows and Android have supported sideloading on their respective platforms since their inception.
iPadOS 17: your next smart display
Apple is now currently rumored to be including a smart display feature within iOS which would turn your iPhone into a smart home hub-style device when done. Such a feature could trickle down to iPads via iPadOS 17 too and make, for example, an iPad 10th generation into a smart display when docked, letting you control all the lights and speakers from a single interface.
The bad news here is that this feature may not actually debut in iPadOS 17. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims that the progress towards certain improvements in iPadOS have been slow going. For example, Apple introduced powerful lock screen customization to the iPhone, but the iPad is still yet to get it. Now, it is worth noting that the iPad will benefit more from the smart display-like feature than lockscreen customization. Tablets are more likely to be used (and remain) at home, and the iPad is no exception. Google has made that case with the Pixel Tablet, and the iPad nabbing Google’s killer tablet feature would potentially stymie its release.
iPadOS 17: better Apple apps
Apple routinely updates and improves its built- in apps for the iPhone and iPad, and iPadOS 17 is not expected to be different. Bloomberg reports that Apple is delivering updates to Mail, Calendar and News, all of which would benefit from an update on the iPad.
Apple could also be building a new journaling app for mental health purposes into iOS 17. Although this may also be something that’s limited to the iPhone as well, one could imagine an iPad user with one of the best iPad keyboards benefiting from it too.
Check back during WWDC to see what actually gets announced.