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iPadOS 17: Release date, features, and compatibility

Here's everything we know about iPadOS 17.
By

Published onJanuary 26, 2024

ipad os 17
Apple

Fans of Apple’s iPad will be happy to know iPadOS 17 is here and with it comes many of the features we already know from iOS 17, alongside some tablet-specific tweaks. Join us as we take a closer look at the iPadOS naming convention, features, and more.


iPadOS 17: At a glance

  • When is it coming out? Apple iPadOS 17 arrived on September 18.
  • What's new?
    • iPadOS 17 reworks the lock screen experience with new widgets, wallpapers, and more.
    • New interactive widgets are also coming to iPadOS 17.
    • Audio or video messages for Facetime when the person doesn't answer.
    • Stage manager is adding a few improvements that let you move around and adjust window sizes.
    • Apple is adding new apps to the iPadOS including the iPhone's Health app and the upcoming Journal app.

iPadOS 17 release date and name

  • iPadOS 16: October 24, 2022
  • iPadOS 15: September 20, 2021
  • iPadOS 14: September 16, 2020
  • iPadOS 13: September 24, 2019

At Apple’s recent Wonderlust event, the company announced iPadOS 17 would arrive on September 18, 2023, right alongside iOS 17.  As promised, the iPadOS 17 stable release is now available.

To download the latest version of iPadOS 17 you’ll need a compatible device (see list below). Beyond that, all you need to do is go to Settings > General > Software Update > Automatic Updates. Turn on Download iPadOS Updates and Install iPad OS Updates. That’s it, the update will automatically begin shortly thereafter. If this doesn’t work, you can manually pull down the update by going to Settings > General > Software Update as well.

iPadOS 17.0.03 is now out

If you’ve already upgraded to iPadOS 17 you might want to ensure you have your automatic updates turned or check for an update manually. iPadOS 17.0.03 arrived late last year and brings a few small changes to iPad OS such as security updates and bug fixes.

iPadOS 17.1 beta also out for developers

The iPadOS 17.1 beta update has arrived. You can sign up for it by going to the Apple Beta Software Program site. We don’t have a full-log of what’s available yet, but it looks like it’s mostly minor bug fixes and improvements. We’ll update as we learn more.

iPadOS 17 features

ipad external cam
Apple

A large portion of the new iPadOS features can also be found on iOS 17, which we break down in our iOS 17 features guide. Here are some of the biggest features found in iOS 17 that are also present on iPadOS 17:

  • NameDrop lets you AirDrop your contact card: The new NameDrop feature lets you quickly share contact information by bringing your phones close together.
  • AirDrop can also send files over the internet: While AirDrop is designed for short-range transfers, what happens if you start a transfer and have to go all of a sudden? That’s where this new feature comes into play. You can continue any transfers over iCloud as long as both people are signed into their iCloud accounts.
  • FaceTime gets audio and video messages, reactions, and a few other improvements: You can now leave messages in the form of video or audio if someone doesn’t answer your FaceTime call. In addition to this, there are now new reactions that you can make such as making a heart gesture to trigger an on-screen shower of heart icons.
  • StandBy turns your tablet into a clock: Standby lets you place your iPad in a landscape orientation while charging with Qi or MagSafe, giving you glanceable information like smart widgets and the time.
  • Apple beefs up Autocorrect and Dictation using AI: Improved AI is changing everything around us fast, so it’s not surprising to see Apple making use of the tech to improve its autocorrect suggestions and to make dictation more accurate.
  • Hey Siri is no longer required: Don’t want to say “hey Siri” a thousand times? Now, you can simply say “Siri” instead. It’s a small but welcome change.
  • Apple introduces the new Journal app: This app is designed to let you take notes about your day and life, just like the journals some of us had as younglings.

That’s just hitting the surface. You can also now share passwords quicker than ever, get warnings about sensitive messages (so you don’t accidentally open that private pick in front of everyone), and more. But what about iPadOS 17 features — are there any specific to the tablet? Yes, a few things, actually. There are also a few features that previously were only for iPhones.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest new iPadOS 17 features:

Home screen widgets have been reworked with iPadOS 17

apple widgets (1)
Apple

Apple’s widgets have some static information that you can glance at. To make real changes, you have to hop into the app associated with the widget. At least, that used to be the case. Apple is redoing widgets for all of its operating systems, adding more interactive elements such as being able to quickly turn lights on or off, mark reminders complete, or even play a song.

While these kinds of widgets are common in the Android world, it’s nice to see widget improvements on iPadOS as well.

The iPadOS 17 lock screen gets a major makeover

ipados 17 wallpaper (1)
Apple

iOS 16 brought some pretty big improvements to the iPhone’s lock screen. Sadly, none of these changes shipped with iPadOS 16. Thankfully, Apple is now bringing these same lock screen customization features over to the iPad.

For those who haven’t used this on the iPhone, you’ll be able to customize colors and font styles, shuffle through dynamic photo sets as background, and create unique designs that help your tablet stand out. You can even add an entire column of widgets right onto the lock screen as well as new Live Activities which track events like timers, flights, food orders, and more.

iPad now supports external cameras

facetime (1)
Apple

For the first time ever, Apple is adding external camera support to the iPad, particularly with apps like FaceTime in mind. Not only will you be able to connect a webcam, but you’ll also see support for external displays with built-in cameras as well.

Stage Manager adds a few new changes to the mix

ipados 17 stage manager (1)
Apple

In our past iPad Pro reviews, we’ve had a few less-than-flattering things to say about Stage Manager. While the solution makes sense on paper, it’s just not as good of a multi-tasking solution as you’d find with a desktop-class OS. The good news is Stage Manager continues to evolve in iPadOS 17. You’ll now have the ability to freely resize windows, move them around, and place them however is most convenient for you.

Apple’s Health app comes to the iPad, alongside other app improvements

ipados 17 health app (1)
Apple

Apple’s Health app was previously reserved for the iPhone family. The new iPad-optimized version makes good use of the larger display with a new Favorites view, extra glanceable insights, and more. Pretty much every function that exists in the iPhone’s Health app will also exist here.

Apple Health and Journal are both new apps for iPad. The OS is also updating many of the existing apps. PDFs and Notes will now have an enhanced auto-fill function that uses machine learning to fill things out quickly using your contacts and other information. There’s also the ability to collaborate with others in PDFs for the first time. Lastly, the Freeform app has also introduced new drawing tools such as a highlighter, ruler, watercolor brush, and more.

iPadOS 17 compatibility

Apple has some of the best update support ever seen in the mobile world, and that continues with iPadOS 17. Not only can you expect the OS to come pre-installed on upcoming devices like the iPad Pro 7th gen and iPad Mini 7th gen, but you’ll also get support for a wide range of older Apple tablets going back as early as the 6th-gen iPad. Here’s the breakdown of what to expect:

  • iPad (6th generation and later)
  • iPad Mini (5th generation and later)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
  • iPad Pro (2nd generation and later)

Not all iPadOS 17 features will play nicely on some of the older or lower-range iPads. Features like Stage Manager are reserved for newer hardware. Some features will also require an Apple M-series processor.