iPadOS 16 is ‘on its own schedule,’ shipping after iOS 16 this year

Apple has confirmed that iPadOS 16.0 won’t be getting a public release and that the tablet-centered OS won’t be coming out until after iOS starts hitting phones. In a statement to TechCrunch, attributed only to “the company,” it said: “we have the flexibility to deliver iPadOS on its own schedule. This Fall, iPadOS will ship after iOS, as version 16.1 in a free software update.”

Despite Apple traditionally releasing iPadOS and iOS together, it’s always felt like this decoupling was a possibility ever since Apple split out the iPad’s operating system as a separate entity in 2019. (And indeed, the first version of iPadOS released as 13.1, less than a week after iOS 13’s messy initial rollout.) Still, it’s a pretty big change of pace for Apple — while the company has made a habit of delaying individual features from its mobile OSes, it’s a different thing entirely to push back the OS itself, skipping the initial version.

This news, which confirms a report that Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman released earlier this month, comes alongside the first beta release of iPadOS 16.1. Currently, Apple’s developer site doesn’t seem to have any release notes for the 16.1 beta. The company is also releasing a new iOS 16 build for iPhone developers, but it’s for 16.0, not 16.1.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment on why iPadOS will be released later, skipping the initial version. However, many people on the beta for the upcoming OS have noted that its flagship feature, the Stage Manager multitasking system, feels very underbaked. When my colleague David Pierce previewed the OS, he said he hated Stage Manager, and prominent iPad user Federico Viticci recently tweeted a plea to Apple to delay the feature, reporting that he experienced crashes “every few minutes” and “UI glitches everywhere” while using it. He also said that he considers some parts of the feature’s design to be “fundamentally misguided.”

While it does sound like iPadOS isn’t ready for primetime, its delay could end up causing some weird behavior for iPad users who immediately upgrade to iOS 16 for their phones. Messages edited on iOS will almost certainly show up differently on an iPad, based on the system’s behavior in the betas, and it’s hard to say for sure how iPadOS will handle things like iCloud Shared Photo libraries. Plus, as someone who lives the beta life, I can tell you that it can be annoying to get used to features on one device and then not have them on another that runs a very similar OS. I can imagine getting frustrated after forgetting that my iPad doesn’t support Passkeys or emoji dictation yet.

iPadOS’s delay also raises the question of what will happen with macOS Ventura, which also includes Stage Manager. However, it’s easier to ignore on the Mac (I had to ask a colleague how to even activate it), and Apple’s desktop OS doesn’t have the same tradition of being updated alongside the iPhone.

Despite the potential downsides, it’s still probably a good call to push back an OS release if it’s not finished. Apple technically hasn’t given an actual date for when iPadOS (or iOS, for that matter) will be coming out, but the wait is now just a bit longer.