These iPadOS 16 features only work on the M1 iPads

iPadOS 16 Stage Manager
iPadOS 16 Stage Manager (Image credit: Apple)

At this year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple waited until the end of its annual keynote address to reveal iPadOS 16 and the iPad software's terrific list of new features. Unfortunately, what it didn't mention at the time is that many of these features only work on three iPads, while some others are even more limiting.

Here's a look at the iPadOS 16 features exclusive to certain iPads.

Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas. While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.

General iPadOS 16 support

As previously noted, the base version of iPadOS 16 will work on the following iPads:

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
  • iPad (9th generation)
  • iPad (8th generation)
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad mini (6th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad Air (5th generation)
  • iPad Air (4th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)

The notable cuts from iPadOS 16 include the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4, both of which could run iPadOS 15.

Call it "iPadOS 16 Pro"

The second tier of iPadOS 16 features are those that will only work on the 2020 iPad Pro and later. These include:

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)

Exclusive features at this level involve Accessibility (via Apple):

  • Detection Mode in Magnifier: Get rich descriptions of your surroundings with a new Magnifier mode that contains Door Detection, People Detection, and Image Descriptions.
  • Door Detection in Magnifier: Locate a door, read signs or labels around it, and get instructions on how to open the door.

"iPadOS 16 Pro Plus"

One iPadOS 16 system feature works on the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation), and iPad Air (5th generation) with 256GB storage only:

  • Virtual Memory Swap: iPad storage can be used to expand the available memory for all apps and delivers up to 16 gigabytes of memory for the most demanding apps.

Call it "iPadOS 16 Max"

Ipados 16 Stage Manager

Ipados 16 Stage Manager (Image credit: Apple)

Perhaps the most popular feature of iPadOS 16, Stage Manager, only works on M1 iPads. These models include:

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Air (5th generation)

Stage Manager offers the following features:

  • Resizable windows: Resize your windows to make them the perfect size for your task. You can even move them to the stage.
  • Center app: Focus on the app you're working on without going full screen. The app is positioned prominently in the center, at a size that makes it easy to work with.
  • Fast access to windows and apps: The window of the app you're working in is displayed prominently in the center, and your other apps are arranged on the left side in order of recent use.
  • Overlapping windows: Create overlapping windows of different sizes in a single view, giving you the control and flexibility to arrange your ideal workspace.
  • Group apps together: Drag and drop windows from the side or open apps from the Dock to create app sets that you can always tap to get back into.

Call it "iPadOS 16 Max Plus"

Two features only work on M1 iPad Pro models, including the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation) and iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation):

  • Access apps on external display: Access your favorite apps and the ones that you used recently from the Dock, or use App Library to find the app you want faster.
  • Drag and drop between iPad and external display: Drag and drop files and windows from your iPad Pro to your external display, and vice versa.

Call it "iPad OS 16 Ultra"

Finally, two iPadOS 16 features only work on one iPad, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation). Both features involve new display modes:

  • Reference Mode: Enables the 12.9‑inch iPad Pro with Liquid Retina XDR display to deliver reference color for popular color standards and video formats.
  • Reference Mode with Sidecar: Use iPad Pro as a secondary reference display for your Mac.

iPadOS 16 is certainly segmented

As you can see, not all iPads are equal when it comes to iPadOS 16. Unfortunately, even some of our favorite iPads haven't made the entire list.

Keep in mind that iPadOS 16 remains in beta and the features' requirements can change before the software makes its public release. If support requirements change, this post will receive an update.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.