During its WWDC 2022 keynote, Apple previewed the new iPadOS 16, emphasizing new multitasking features. If you’ve been waiting for Apple to bring proper, resizable windows to the tablet OS, it’s just around the corner.
iPad’s Stage Manager sounds like it’s a tool for your local community theater troupe. But in reality, it’s a powerful multitasking tool for the tablet device, and arguably, it brings it one step closer to emulating the laptop experience. It’s called Stage Manager, and it enables you to“create overlapping windows of different sizes,” the same way you would on macOS. Apple announced the ability for macOS Ventura, too, but only the iPad Pro and iPad Air with the M1 chip will have it enabled.
Stage Manager lets you drag and drop windows around iPadOS 16 and even open apps simultaneously from the Dock to create groups. That last feature will prove especially helpful concerning tasks like editing photos to post to social media or maybe even editing a quick clip to send through a group conversation in Apple Messages.
Stage Manager also lets you use the iPad with an external display in full resolution—up to 6K. You can work with eight different apps across two displays, though it’s limited to four at a time on both the tablet and an external display. This is different from the iPad Pro’s Sidecar, which lets you use your iPad in landscape orientation as a second display for your Mac. But it is similar in that the point here is parity between the Mac and iPad.
Apple knows its users love the iPad for getting work done on the go, so it’s tuned iPadOS 16 for multi-person collaboration. If you’re coordinating with Apple Messages, you can now share content from Files, Keynote, Numbers, Pages, Notes, Reminders, Safari, and any other compatible third-party apps right within the messaging app. Once you send that invite, the respective app will add the people included in the Messages thread to whatever you’re sharing. And if it’s an editable file that they can contribute to, you’ll see changes via an expandable log.
iPadOS16 also includes a feature called Freeform, which uses the Apple Pencil if you have it in tow. If you’re using FaceTime for a bit of—what else?—face time with a client or friend, you can jump into it through Apple Messages and edit the shared document in real-time.
Safari on the iPad is also getting updated with a few collaboration tricks. Shared Tab Groups allow you to collaborate on tabs with friends to see updates for websites and outside documents. You can also use Tab Groups to help you organize web searches.
You’re probably using your iPad to manage email, especially if you’ve got one of the Pro models with the big screens. Apple Mail on iPadOS 16 will have the ability to cancel the delivery of a message before it sends off to someone, the same way you can cancel delivery in a Gmail on the web. You’ll also be able to schedule emails so that they’re not hitting someone’s inbox in the dead of night—a feature I’d encourage you to use, because it’s rude to plead your case at two in the morning.
iPadOS 16 isn’t an entirely different operating system from iOS for the iPhone, though it’s infused with features specific to the larger screens and accessories that accommodate the tablet lineup. Still, it’s getting many of the same abilities as the iPhone once the software update goes live. For instance, the Home app will get an all-new design language on iPadOS 16, just as it will in iOS 16. The iPad is also getting the Weather app, which has been a long time coming for the tablet users who want to blame it on the rain.
iPadOS 16 will also have access to iCloud’s Shared Photo Library, the Live Text and Visual Look Up upgrades, and the ability to Handoff in FaceTime, so you can start a call on one device and then switch it out for another.
iPadOS 16 isn’t available yet, though developers have a preview version that they can use to prepare their apps. The public beta of iPadOS 16 will be open next month for everyone else interested in running it on their respective devices before it officially launches later this year.