Apple’s big (and controversial) iPadOS 16 update is finally here

The update includes features like Stage Manager, Display Zoom, an upgraded Mail app, iMessage upgrades, and more.

Following a beta period that extended well passed the one for iOS 16, Apple has finally started rolling out iPadOS 16 to all users. The update comes after Apple decided to delay its launch, likely due to the fact it’s been chock-full of bugs for a while. The update should reach every supported iPad over the coming hours as iPadOS 16.1.

iPadOS 16 features

Stage Manager on 2018 iPad Pro
Stage Manager on my 2018 iPad Pro.

In the update, one of Apple’s biggest new features is Stage Manager, which has been the root of a lot of the issues with the betas. The feature lets you organize open applications in floating windows as separate spaces, then giving you the ability to flip through them with a tap on the left side of the screen. It’s by far one of the most controversial features not just because it’s been plagued by weird layout bugs and system crashes, but also it’s overarching quality. Not many people are sold on it as the future of multitasking on the iPad, myself included.

Stage Manager isn’t much of a reason to upgrade, but the rest of iPadOS 16 seems appealing enough to justify hitting “Download and install.” There’s a new Display Zoom feature that lets you increase the pixel density to fit more content on your display, while Apple M-powered 12.9-inch iPad Pros will get Reference mode to put your screen in a mode that’s more suited for things like color correction on photographs and videos. Apple also announced improved external monitor support that uses Stage Manager to let you open more apps, but it’s not shipping until a later iPadOS update.

Elsewhere, iPadOS 16 boasts a lot of the same features as iOS 16, like iCloud Shared Photo Library which lets you share a photo library with your family and automatically back up pictures and videos of different people and places so you can all relive the same memories. It’s similar to Google Photo’s “Family and friends” album feature.

The Mail app gets substantial updates with the ability to cancel sent messages, schedule emails to go out, get reminded about an email at a later date, and enjoy a much more robust search experience. The Messages app gets updated with an edit button for messages, the ability to recover recently-deleted messages, and mark threads as unread. Live Text now works in videos, and Visual Look Up can lift subjects from their background so you can use them in other apps like Messages. You also get the ability to use Dictation and your keyboard at the same time to type, a redesigned Home app, improvements to Siri and shortcuts, Handoff for FaceTime calls, and updates to Apple News coverage of sports.

Of course, Apple does include some iPad-specific features that every user will get to take advantage of, regardless of processor. In Messages, you’ll have the ability to collaborate and manage content from across apps like Keynote, Numbers, Pages, Notes, and Reminders. You’ll even be able to do it through Safari thanks to its new Tab Groups feature, allowing you and others to collect web pages and do research together.

A new app coming in the future is Freeform, which will let you collaborate with others on a digital whiteboard in real-time. There’s also (finally!) a stock Weather app for the iPad, as well as deeper system functions like system-wide undo/redo and customizable toolbars to help make iPadOS feel more desktop-like.

There’s also Passkeys in Safari, an actual Weather app, a redesigned Home app, general UI improvements for apps so they feel desktop-class, and much more.

Which iPads support iPadOS 16?

Apple says all models of the iPad Pro, the iPad Air (3rd generation) and later, iPad (5th generation) and later, and iPad mini (5th generation) and later will all get the update.

To install, simply go to Settings > General > Software update. There, you should see the upgrade ready to be installed on your device. As always, I recommend juicing up your iPad to over 50 percent so you don’t have to worry about it dying halfway through the install.