Don’t miss the best new features in iPadOS 17


iPadOS 17 Home Screen
Interactive widgets are one of the highlights of iPadOS 17.
Screenshot: Apple

Apple just released iPadOS 17 to the public. There’s a lot to like, including a new customizable Lock screen, interactive widgets, a Health app, significant Stage Manager improvements and much more.

Here’s everything you can expect from loading the new version on your iPad.

Apple picks its favorite iPadOS 17 features

Apple unveiled iPadOS 17 at WWDC back in June, and the months-long wait for the new version is over! The time for beta testing is past, and anyone with a compatible iPad can install this major upgrade.

The official release notes reveal which features Apple thinks are the most important:

“iPadOS 17 brings a redesigned Lock Screen with new ways to customize, showcase your photos, and add widgets for information at a glance. Messages includes a new Stickers experience which brings all of your stickers together. The Health app comes to iPad designed for the larger display. Productivity improvements make it easier to work with full-width PDFs and document scans in Notes and Stage Manager adds more flexibility to the positioning of windows and adds external display camera support. iPadOS 17 also includes updates to Safari, Keyboard, Music, AirPlay, and more.”

Best new features

As noted by Apple, the customizable Lock Screen that debuted in iOS 16 made the jump to iPadOS 17. And many of the screens have been enhanced to take advantage of a larger tablet display. That includes the gorgeous Astronomy one.

Curiously, Apple doesn’t make a big deal out of one of the top features in the new OS: interactive widgets. With this change, home screen widgets can contain buttons that control applications, like music start and stop. Previously, widgets could only display information.

Speaking of oft-requested features, iPadOS 17 includes an iPad version of the Apple Health application. Before, this software had been limited to iPhone, but can now take advantage of larger tablet screens.

And in a small but welcome change, iPad users can now set multiple timers.

Stage Manager upgrade

Hands on with Stage Manager improvements in iPadOS 17
With Stage Manager in iPadOS 17, you can arrange app windows however you like.
Graphic: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

iPadOS 16 brought some of the most dramatic changes yet to Apple tablets, including Stage Manager, a more Mac-like user interface with applications in floating, resizable windows. The just-released version offers additional freedom in window sizing and position.

Speaking of improvements, the Files app in iPadOS 17 adds tools for working with external drives.

Will your iPad run the new version?

Unlike Google, Apple makes sure that all of its tablets and handsets get years of free operating system upgrades. But eventually, all good things must end. The new iPadOS version drops support for support for the fifth-generation iPad, which first launched in 2017.

The devices it can be installed on are:

  • iPad mini 5 and mini 6
  • iPad Air 3 or newer
  • iPad (6th generation or later)
  • iPad Pro (all models)

How to install iPadOS 17

These aren’t all the changes coming to iPad. Many of the features debuting in iOS 17 will also be available for tablets. Check out Cult of Mac‘s “The 50 best iOS 17 features you should try after you update” for more details.

iPad users can install the new version directly by opening the Settings app and going to General -> Software Update. Alternatively, you can update your devices by connecting them to a Mac (or to a PC running iTunes).


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