Apple’s iPadOS 16.1 update will ship after the launch of iOS 16 for iPhones

Apple has confirmed that iPadOS 16.0 will not get a public release, and that the tablet-centric operating system will only come out after iOS starts hitting phones. In a statement to TechCrunch, which is only attributed to “the company,” states: “We have the flexibility to deploy iPadOS on our own schedule. This fall, iPadOS will ship after iOS as version 16.1 in a free software update.”

Although Apple traditionally releases iPadOS and iOS together, there’s always been a sense that this decoupling was possible since Apple spun off 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 chaotic initial rollout.) Still, it’s a pretty big change of pace for Apple — while the company has made a habit of Delaying individual features of its mobile operating systems is quite another matter to roll back the operating system itself and skip the initial version.

This news, a report confirms that Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, released earlier this month, comes alongside the first beta 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 The edge‘s request for comment on why iPadOS is released later and the original version is skipped. However, many people in the beta of the upcoming operating system have found that its flagship feature, the multitasking system Stage Manager, feels very immature. When my colleague David Pierce saw a preview of the OS, he said he hated Stage Manager and celebrity iPad user Federico Viticci recently tweeted a request for Apple to delay the feature, reporting that he’s experienced crashes “every few minutes” and “UI glitches everywhere” when using it. He also said he thought some parts of the feature’s design were “fundamentally misguided.”

While it sounds like iPadOS isn’t ready for primetime, its delay could cause strange behavior for iPad users who update to iOS 16 for their phones right away. Messages edited on iOS will almost certainly appear differently on an iPad based on how the system behaved in the betas, and it’s hard to tell how iPadOS will handle things like iCloud Shared Photo Libraries. Also, as someone living 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 running a very similar operating system. I can imagine getting frustrated after forgetting that my iPad doesn’t yet support passkeys or emoji dictation.

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

Despite the potential downsides, deferring an OS release if it’s not ready is probably still a good decision. Technically, Apple hasn’t given an actual release date for iPadOS (or iOS), but the wait is just a little longer now.

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