Apple releases macOS Ventura, iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16

It’s a major Apple update day as the company releases new versions of its iPhone, iPad and Mac operating systems. While iPhone users overall have already had a taste of iOS 16, this will be the first time most people will get their hands on iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura.

Apple delayed the release of iPadOS 16 amid reports suggesting it needed more time to polish Stage Manager’s multitasking feature (which we think wasn’t refined in an early iPadOS 16 beta). In fact, Apple said it’s skipping a public release of iPadOS 16 and going straight to version 16.1 — just in time for the company’s latest iPad Pro and entry-level iPad to ship this week.

The latest version of the iPad operating system will include many of the same updates as iOS 16, including significant changes to Mail, Safari, Messages, and other key apps. There are more collaboration-focused features, while the weather and clock apps are finally coming to iPad. External display support for Stage Manager will be available in the coming months.

Also later this year, Apple will release a collaborative productivity iPad app called Freeform. It seems like a souped-up whiteboard for users to sketch out ideas with the Apple Pencil. The company says you can attach just about any type of file to the canvas, including images, videos, audio, PDFs, documents, and URLs, and preview the content inline

Apple's Freeform app on the iPad

Apple’s Freeform app on the iPad

Stage Manager is also the main attraction of macOS Ventura. During our hands-on experience with the beta, we felt the feature improved the multitasking experience on the Mac. The Continuity Camera feature, which offers a native way to use your iPhone as a Mac webcam, sounds intriguing, as does the introduction of shared tab groups and passkeys for Safari.

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Other accessibility options are always welcome as well. With macOS Ventura, Apple is adding Live Captions for all audio content, a Type-to-Speak feature for calls, a text checker proofreading tool for those using the VoiceOver screen reader, and other tools. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that the System Settings menu is now called System Settings and has been redesigned to better match iPhone and iPad settings.

iOS 16.1 offers shared photo libraries via iCloud and a clean energy charging feature that optimizes iPhone charging times based on when the grid is switching to greener energy sources. Apple Fitness+ is now available on iPhone without the need for an Apple Watch. Also new are an improved battery life icon, support for third-party apps in Live Activities, and per-app copy-paste permissions, which should mitigate iOS 16’s irritating prompts.