Facing quality and pacing issues, Apple reportedly delays iPadOS 16

Widgets on iPadOS 15's home screen.
Enlarge / Widgets on iPadOS 15’s home screen.

Samuel Axon

Apple will delay the release of the iPadOS 16 software update for iPads well into October, about a month after the September release of the iPhone’s iOS 16. The news comes from a report in Bloomberg citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Typically, Apple releases iPadOS—which is closely related to iOS—very close to or shortly after the iOS launch, which comes in September alongside new flagship iPhone models. It’s arrived slightly later in the past, but this would be an unusually large gap in releases.

According to the report’s sources, the delay can be blamed at least partly on the upcoming overhaul of the iPad’s multitasking features, including the new Stage Manager feature that is also coming to Macs in macOS. Those features were announced at Apple’s developer conference in June.

The iPadOS beta period this year has been relatively rocky, with later release times and some public criticism from developers. One of the criticisms is that Stage Manager is unavailable on all but the newest iPad models, but bugs and ease of use have also been subjects of debate.

In addition to giving Apple more time to iron out the kinks or make bigger changes, the change in release date will allow the company to focus more efforts in the immediate future on the iPhone’s software—the beta period for which has also been running behind schedule.

Bloomberg also says that an October release date for iPadOS 16 would see the software update going out around the same time that Apple introduces new iPad hardware that will make use of it—specifically, an iPad Pro with an M2 chip and a cheaper entry-level iPad that replaces the proprietary Lightning port with the industry-standard USB—something that has already happened to the rest of the iPad lineup.

It could additionally see Stage Manager arriving at roughly similar times across both Mac and iPad systems, instead of the iPad first, since macOS updates typically come in October instead of September.

The delay could also cause headaches for third-party app developers and their users, especially those working on universal apps. For example, iPadOS 16’s delay could lead to delays in some features for iPhone apps using iOS 16 features, depending on how developers went about implementing them in their efforts to support both platforms.

The report notes that, as always, Apple’s plans could change as this fall’s product and software launches draw nearer.

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