(Image credit: Apple)

 

Announced at WWDC 2023, iPadOS 17 was officially released on September 18, 2023 — and it’s brought crazy cool changes to the iPad. There are big changes well worth getting excited about, such as a new lock screen, customization options, widget implementation, and new PDF features, all of which make the best iPads even better. Some features are carrying over from the macOS update too, like Safari updates and Stage Manager extras. Even the keyboard is being spruced up while there’s the addition of a health app you’re more used to seeing on your iPhone.

 

And with the release of the beta of iOS 17.4, Apple has unveiled huge changes for the European market, thanks to a new law insisting that Apple allow alternative app stores onto its platform. The unthinkable is finally happening: There’s a new app store in town. 

iPadOS 16 was a pretty large addition for most of us. It brought with it the Freeform collaboration app as well as Stage Manager for iPad multitasking features which truly enhanced many people’s ability to be productive. iPadOS 17 is even bigger. And iPadOS 18 is waiting in the wings, promising more changes — and perhaps new AI powers. Meanwhile, here’s a look at everything that the new iPadOS 17 brings to your favorite tablet.The iPad (2022) showcasing being able to sketch on it with an Apple Pencil.

(Image credit: Apple)

iPadOS 17: New features

Every new version of the iPad operating system brings a slew of new apps, features, and functions. Here’s a rundown of the coolest new parts of the OS. 

iPadOS 17: New lock screensThe new iPadOS 17 lock screen on an iPad held by someone.

Much like the lock screen on iOS, iPadOS 17 lets you customize the iPad lock screen with new photos and clocks. (Image credit: Apple)

New lock screens were one of the first big new features announced at WWDC. Much like the lock screen on iOS, you’re able to customize the iPad lock screen with new photos and clocks. The clocks can be hidden by part of the background intelligently, plus you can change the font and layout of the clock too.

 

iPadOS 17: WidgetsHow iPadOS 17 live activities will look.

Widgets, new to iPadOS 17, look a lot like iOS widgets (but slightly larger, of course!) (Image credit: Apple)

Also new to iPadOS are widgets that you can place on the Lock and Home screens. These widgets look a lot like the lock screen widgets you see on iOS, but they’re slightly larger in line with the bigger screens of the iPad range. The widgets are interactive too, so you can turn on or off HomeKit devices, interact with Health apps, and play or skip music in Apple Music.

Such widgets carry over to your Home Screen, being able to blend seamlessly into the background, and sit alongside your apps. They’re interactive too with widgets like Photos, Music, and others to add to your Home Screen. They blend in with the look screen ones, so you gain a more seamless experience.

iPadOS 17: New Health appThe Health App has come to the Apple iPad in iOS 17, giving new ways to access and explore your health data.

The Health App shown on an Apple iPad (Image credit: Apple)

Health has also come to iPad, with the bigger screen allowing for more metrics and graphs. The interface has been built with the bigger iPad screen in mind, with more information displayed on one screen.

iPadOS 17: PDF supportiPadOS 17's PDF app on an iPad placed on a wooden surface.

(Image credit: Apple)

PDFs are now a baked-in addition to the latest version of iPadOS. You can more easily edit them on your iPad thanks to this. The format has also come to the Notes app so you can annotate them and collaborate with others too.

Extra features: Stickers, Stage Manager and more

More iOS-like features are also coming to iPadOS 17. There will be new messaging Stickers as well as an expandable tray-like menu for the Messages app. FaceTime is also seeing improvements such as allowing you to connect to an Apple TV box and take calls on a bigger screen. 

Stage Manager has also been improved, with more flexibility to the position and size of windows. Freeform will offer new drawing tools, and some more new features including support for hover, tilt, and snap-to-shape. Spotlight comes to help users find information even faster with shortcuts to actions, enhanced visual results, and more.

There’s a new autocorrect model for the keyboard too, in a bid to make it easier to type faster than before. Dictation is also more accurate thanks to the new speech recognition. Related to that, Siri can now be summoned without needing to say ‘hey’ first. Finally, AirPlay will follow user preferences to get to know when and where to connect to devices.

iPadOS 17: Latest beta

The beta of iPadOS 17.4 is out, and it’s a doozy. The latest release of the software powering the iPad, released as always in conjunction with the latest version of iOS, brings enormous changes for users in the European Union, as well as the usual raft of bug fixes and tiny tweaks.

Some of those changes are cosmetic, with new emoji being added to the mix. But some of the changes are truly groundbreaking — like Apple adding support for third-party app stores, allowing streaming apps like Xbox Cloud into its own App Store, and more. The number of changes isn’t necessarily huge, but some of them will have an outsized impact on the way people use their iPads from the moment iOS 17.4 arrives.  The App Store changes need to be in play by March 6, which is when the EU’s DMA requires that Apple allow those in the region to install apps from sources other than the App Store. That means that Apple now has a few weeks to get iOS 17.4 in order and any bugs polished out.

iPadOS 18: Rumored features

What will iPadOS 18 bring? AI is likely to be a big thing for Apple in 2024, although details on iPadOS 18 have been almost impossible to come by so far. But AI is the common thread right now, and Apple knows that Large Language Models (LLMs) and chatbots like ChatGPT have started to become more popular — putting Siri to shame in the process.

With that context, Apple is said to be working on a new AI upgrade that will bring significant upgrades to Siri. Reportedly called Ajax GPT, the new language is reportedly a cut above what even ChatGPT can offer. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has also hinted that 2024 will be a big year for Apple in terms of its AI initiatives. 

Also to be expected: Apple brought its new Journal app to the iPhone with iOS 17 last year, but the app was strangely missing from the iPad and Mac. That could well change in 2024. For all the details and what else to expect, see our iPadOS 18 complete rundown.

iPadOS 17: Release date

As always, Apple announced the latest versions of its software platforms at its developer conference, WWDC, and released them toward the end of the year. iPadOS 17 was Announced at WWDC 2023; the first public beta of the software was released on June 6, 2023. iPadOS 17 was officially released on September 18, 2023 — and since then, four new releases have brought additional features and bug fixes to the tablet platform.

Which iPads support iPadOS 17?iPad 2022 using Split View to show a sketching app with a poorly drawn Bart Simpson and a Safari tab open on a picture of Bart Simpson

(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

iPads tend to be supported for a long time. When Apple does remove tablets from the compatibility list, it tends to be a small number of them. iPadOS 16 only saw two devices lose support — the iPad Air 2 (released in 2014) and the iPad mini 4 (2015). In other words, if you own one of the best iPads, you probably won’t have to worry. 

There were 23 iPads support by iPadOS 16; the latest version of the software only supports 20. Here’s the full list of iPads supported by iOS 17:

  • iPad mini (6th generation)
  • iPad (10th generation)
  • iPad Air (4th generation)
  • iPad Air (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (6th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad (8th generation)
  • iPad (9th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation)

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By di4xod

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