Apple's iPadOS 16 brings full external display support, overlapping windows to M1 iPads

Posted:
in iPad edited June 2022
During WWDC 2022, Apple has revealed iPadOS 16 with an advanced multitasking system for M1 iPads, full external display support, and new collaboration tools.

True external display support comes to iPadOS
True external display support comes to iPadOS


Apple uses WWDC to announce its latest operating system updates for its flagship products, like iPadOS for iPad. Many of the new features for iOS 16 have been included in iPadOS 16 along with some important changes specific to Apple's tablet lineup.

When multitasking features like Split View were first introduced in 2019 they were hidden away and somewhat difficult to learn. Apple had done little to change how iPad multitasking worked until iPadOS 15, but even those measures were just stop gaps.

Now, Apple has rebuilt iPad multitasking for high-end users around a new windowing system that also brings full external display support.

Stage Manager

Stage manager introduces overlapping windows and advanced multitasking to iPads running an M1 processor. The macOS Ventura feature will also make its debut with iPadOS 16, which shows recent apps in a scrollable side panel for fast task switching.

Multiple overlapping windows comes to iPads running the M1
Multiple overlapping windows comes to iPads running the M1


Connect the iPad to an external display and run up to eight apps at the same time -- four on the iPad and four on the external display. This multitasking system reimagines what the iPad is capable of with all-new interactions across apps.

Collaboration and Freeform

One other major addition coming to iPadOS is collaboration within apps using technologies like SharePlay and FaceTime. Users can open documents in apps like Pages and interact with them live with others live from a Group FaceTime call.

Users will also be able to share tab groups in Safari and see who is currently viewing each tab. While in a shared tab group, every user can add tabs and interact with them separately.

Freeform is a new app coming to iPad later in 2022
Freeform is a new app coming to iPad later in 2022


A new app called Freeform provides a flexible canvas to brainstorm on together. Work together in a single space similar to writing on a whiteboard. It will launch on iPad later in 2022.

New pro tools

A new Reference Mode for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Liquid Retina XDR display will match the color requirements of professional workflows. So, if a user is color grading and compositing video with the iPad Pro as a secondary monitor for the Mac, it will be just as accurate as the Mac display.

M1-powered iPads gain another feature called Display Zoom. It enables users to increase the pixel density of their display so they can view more in their apps. Virtual Memory Swap also gives iPad apps access to up to 16 gigabytes of memory.

Additional features coming from iOS 16

The Weather app is coming to iPad with a big-screen design. Developers also get access to an API called WeatherKit.

iPadOS 16 shares many features from iOS 16
iPadOS 16 shares many features from iOS 16


Focus modes are improved across the operating system with third-party APIs for choosing what content is displayed in an app. For example, only show certain email accounts in the Mail app depending on the active Focus.

The Messages app has been updated to enable editing an iMessage after it is sent or deleting it from a chat entirely. Also, SharePlay is being integrated with Messages so users can watch content together and chat about it in text form.

Continuity upgrades include a new FaceTime feature that lets users pass a FaceTime call between devices.

Apple has included updates across several of its first-party apps with new developer APIs. One of the biggest updates comes to Apple Maps with APIs for adding detailed Maps and Look Around to third-party apps.

Compatibility

Apple dropped compatibility for the iPad mini 4 and iPad Air 2. Otherwise, all other iPad models compatible with iPadOS 15 work with iPadOS 16.

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro (5th generation)

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro (4th generation)

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd generation)

  • 11-inch iPad Pro (3rd generation)

  • 11-inch iPad Pro (2nd generation)

  • 11-inch iPad Pro (1st generation)

  • iPad Air 4

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro (1st and 2nd generation)

  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro

  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro

  • iPad Air 3

  • iPad (9th generation)

  • iPad (8th generation)

  • iPad (7th generation)

  • iPad (6th generation)

  • iPad (5th generation)

  • iPad mini 6

  • iPad mini 5

Some features are limited based on the processor installed.
  • Stage Manager: Available on iPad Air (5th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation), and iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
  • Reference Mode: Available on iPad Pro 12.9-inch with Liquid Retina XDR display and Mac computers with Apple silicon.
  • Display scaling mode: Available on iPad Air (5th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation), and iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    KBuffettKBuffett Posts: 93member
    iMessage still trails behind WhatsApp and Telegram when it comes to features. The reactions and quoting in iMessage are dire.

    However, iMessage is super fast!
  • Reply 2 of 23
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,783member
    Improved Files
    Improved External Monitor Support
    Adjustable Windows and a Vastly Improved Way to Work With Multiple Apps. 

    I’m very happy now. For me this was the hi light of the whole event. Everything I've wanted for iPadOS. 
    dutchlordStrangeDays
  • Reply 3 of 23
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,457member
    The average iPad user just wants a decent weather app and a calculator. Where's that calculator?
    omasoudocno42netroxappleinsideruser
  • Reply 4 of 23
    wwinter86wwinter86 Posts: 50member
    Is there any advantage to keeping Reference mode on if you have the iPad Pro plugged in, such as for watching movies etc? 
  • Reply 5 of 23
    Would have been nice if these features were available for the iPad Mini 6, too. <sigh>
  • Reply 6 of 23
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,268member
    The average iPad user just wants a decent weather app and a calculator. Where's that calculator?

    I've been wondering about this since the iPad 2. It's not like those apps didn't exist for iPhone.
    bloggerblog
  • Reply 7 of 23
    Would have been nice if these features were available for the iPad Mini 6, too. <sigh>
    Yeah. I knew when I just got my mini earlier this year that I might have some regrets with it not having the M1. I work from it with external screen and keyboard/trackpad and these new expanded capabilities would have been very welcome. I'm usually one to keep a computer/device for a long time before upgrading but if they drop an updated mini with the necessary processor for all the new features, I might be upgrading faster than I've ever done on anything before. Not getting anything bigger though. I absolutely love how small it is.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 23
    I'm usually one to keep a computer/device for a long time before upgrading but if they drop an updated mini with the necessary processor for all the new features, I might be upgrading faster than I've ever done on anything before. Not getting anything bigger though. I absolutely love how small it is.
    Likewise - I've been really pleased with the performance of the Mini, and love the portability.  The USB-C connection is really handy when you want to watch Netflix on the TV in your hotel, or when you want to use an external monitor with VMware Horizon.  Other than RAM, possibly, it's not clear what's keeping them from enabling the feature on the Mini. Even external display support with 'old-style' multitasking would be a game-changer for Mini users.
  • Reply 9 of 23
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,134member
    The windowing looks an improvement and much more intuitive than the current difficult setup.
    what were the changes to the file manager? That is the other key limitation of ipadOS over a Mac.
  • Reply 10 of 23
    pairof9pairof9 Posts: 74member
    Weather app on iPad!!!! Man, those developers at Apple never cease to amaze.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,277member
    These features make the choice between a 12.9” M1 iPad Pro + Magic Keyboard versus a MacBook Air (M1 or M2) a lot more difficult. Granted, macOS still has a lot more generalized functionality but the iPad Pro brings touch, Apple Pencil, instant-ON, portability, etc., into the equation. In my mind, this is the toughest choice facing current Apple buyers, unless you have a very specific need for a macOS app that’s not available on iPadOS. 
    edited June 2022
  • Reply 12 of 23
    brianusbrianus Posts: 158member
    entropys said:
    The windowing looks an improvement and much more intuitive than the current difficult setup.
    what were the changes to the file manager? That is the other key limitation of ipadOS over a Mac.
    I've never understood the desire to send iPad's UI back to the 80s with overlapping resizable windows - you say it's more "intuitive" but it's really only intuitive if the classic desktop style UI is what you're used to. I've been using full screen spaces, split view, slideover, PiP, etc on both my Macs and iPads since those features debuted and I find them to be a far better use of screen real estate than the old way. Windows don't get buried and lost, you don't have to hunt through spaces for some random popup that could be anywhere, etc, and you aren't constantly managing window sizes so the overlapping doesn't become burdensome. Stage Manager seems to be an admission that even on Macs, all those windows get messy.

    Not to say they couldn't make some improvements to the existing multitasking - on Macs and maybe the larger iPad Pros, I would love to see horizontal split view or more than 2 panels per view. macOS also needs Slideover. 

    One question I have: does external display support *require* the use of the Stage Manager UI, or can you have tradtional fullscreen, split view, slideover multitasking on an external display (assuming you have an M1 iPad of course)? Would really suck for e.g. video apps to be stuck inside a little window that can't use the entire screen.


    StrangeDays
  • Reply 13 of 23
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,387member
    I find interesting how a years ago how Apple told everyone that touchscreen notebooks were "ergonomically terrible", and that's what we have today with the iPad Pro.  Apple is definitely changing.  

    Steve Jobs: Touchscreen Laptops Don't Work (businessinsider.com)
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 23
    brianusbrianus Posts: 158member
    danvm said:
    I find interesting how a years ago how Apple told everyone that touchscreen notebooks were "ergonomically terrible", and that's what we have today with the iPad Pro.  Apple is definitely changing.  

    Steve Jobs: Touchscreen Laptops Don't Work (businessinsider.com)
    Well, I think he meant just slapping a touchscreen on an existing laptop form factor and UI was dumb and pointless. And he was right. That doesn't mean that a tablet can't make a decent laptop replacement given good peripherals and software support though. Kind of the reverse of what he was talking about.
  • Reply 15 of 23
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,387member
    brianus said:
    danvm said:
    I find interesting how a years ago how Apple told everyone that touchscreen notebooks were "ergonomically terrible", and that's what we have today with the iPad Pro.  Apple is definitely changing.  

    Steve Jobs: Touchscreen Laptops Don't Work (businessinsider.com)
    Well, I think he meant just slapping a touchscreen on an existing laptop form factor and UI was dumb and pointless. And he was right. That doesn't mean that a tablet can't make a decent laptop replacement given good peripherals and software support though. Kind of the reverse of what he was talking about.
    Here is part of what SJ said,
    ""We've done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn't work. Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical.

    It gives great demo but after a short period of time, you start to fatigue and after an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off. it doesn't work, it's ergonomically terrible.

    Touch surfaces want to be horizontal, hence pads."

    It looks like SJ is talking about ergonomics and not about UI or form factors.  And from an ergonomic POV, an iPad Pro w/ Smart Keyboard is very similar to a notebook with touchscreen. 

  • Reply 16 of 23
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,766member
    dewme said:
    These features make the choice between a 12.9” M1 iPad Pro + Magic Keyboard versus a MacBook Air (M1 or M2) a lot more difficult. Granted, macOS still has a lot more generalized functionality but the iPad Pro brings touch, Apple Pencil, instant-ON, portability, etc., into the equation. In my mind, this is the toughest choice facing current Apple buyers, unless you have a very specific need for a macOS app that’s not available on iPadOS. 
    I have to completely agree with this statement. For me, while watching these features being announced, all I could think was whether I should trade in my MacBook Air and get the Studio Display this fall when the new M2 iPad Pros come out. I love my Air, but damnit that setup made me jealous. 
  • Reply 17 of 23
    They're making iPadOS less and less crippled, but never go far enough.  We need third party web engines.  We need Java.  Will need apps from outside the App Store.  In short, we need to control our devices the same as the Mac. Apple deciding what code users can run is what holds iPadOS back from replacing the Mac and taking a large share of the Windows installed base. 
  • Reply 18 of 23
    brianusbrianus Posts: 158member
    danvm said:

    It looks like SJ is talking about ergonomics and not about UI or form factors.  And from an ergonomic POV, an iPad Pro w/ Smart Keyboard is very similar to a notebook with touchscreen. 

    Apple doesn't even promote the Smart Keyboard anymore though - not since the Magic Keyboard was released. It's clear they expect minimal interaction with the touch surface when connected in that fashion, since you can now use a trackpad or mouse. 

    I still use an iPad Air 3 with a Smart Keyboard, but I enabled magic trackpad support as soon as the software supported it (around 2 years ago). I can't imagine going back - SJ was right on the ergonomics.


    StrangeDays
  • Reply 19 of 23
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,387member
    brianus said:
    danvm said:

    It looks like SJ is talking about ergonomics and not about UI or form factors.  And from an ergonomic POV, an iPad Pro w/ Smart Keyboard is very similar to a notebook with touchscreen. 

    Apple doesn't even promote the Smart Keyboard anymore though - not since the Magic Keyboard was released. It's clear they expect minimal interaction with the touch surface when connected in that fashion, since you can now use a trackpad or mouse. 

    I still use an iPad Air 3 with a Smart Keyboard, but I enabled magic trackpad support as soon as the software supported it (around 2 years ago). I can't imagine going back - SJ was right on the ergonomics.


    Remember that Apple has been criticizing touchscreen notebooks for years, even though they had mouse and trackpads.  
    Why Apple Isn't Into the Idea of Building MacBooks With a Touchscreen: WWDC Interview (businessinsider.com)

    And now we have the same thing with the iPad Pro + Magic Keyboard.  

    Consider what I'm seeing today with iPad, maybe MS was right from the beginning with the Surface Pro.  Every iPad OS update makes the iPad more similar to the Surface Pro.  
  • Reply 20 of 23
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,788member
    brianus said:
    entropys said:
    The windowing looks an improvement and much more intuitive than the current difficult setup.
    what were the changes to the file manager? That is the other key limitation of ipadOS over a Mac.
    I've never understood the desire to send iPad's UI back to the 80s with overlapping resizable windows - you say it's more "intuitive" but it's really only intuitive if the classic desktop style UI is what you're used to. I've been using full screen spaces, split view, slideover, PiP, etc on both my Macs and iPads since those features debuted and I find them to be a far better use of screen real estate than the old way. Windows don't get buried and lost, you don't have to hunt through spaces for some random popup that could be anywhere, etc, and you aren't constantly managing window sizes so the overlapping doesn't become burdensome. Stage Manager seems to be an admission that even on Macs, all those windows get messy.
    One thing that really makes the Mac easier is third-party utility BetterSnapTool — lets you “toss” apps into portions of the screen and improved my multitasking. 
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