iPadOS 17: New features, latest beta, release date & more

Two iPads next to each other showing the Notes app and iPadOS 17.
(Image credit: Apple)

With iPadOS 18 expected at WWDC 2024 in June, iPadOS 17 is on the home stretch, it's time as Apple's primary iPad software is nearly done. The update brought with it some nice upgrades, but it wasn't a knockout. Just days away from the May 7 Let Loose event, it looks like 2024 might actually be a much more important year for iPad than 2023 was, which gives us hope that the days of iPadOS lagging behind Apple's potent iPad hardware may be over. 

Right now, users can still enjoy the offerings of the iPadOS 17.5, the most recent iPadOS software beta. Otherwise, prospective users can take a look below to see the current state of iPad software in 2024. Most recently, Apple has added new Lock Screen features, as well as customization options and widget implementation. iPadOS also features some macOS features including Safari updates, but generally, iPadOS 17 was a very muted upgrade. 

Naturally, users do still benefit from some of the big steps taken in iPadOS 16, namely Stage Manager. Looking ahead, iPadOS 18 could herald a pretty significant step forward thanks to support for Apple AI, which is expected to take the form of large language model support powering improvements on-device for various everyday apps. That could all start with the new M4 chip and Apple's OLED iPad Pro, scheduled for a launch on May 7. 

The iPad (2022) showcasing being able to sketch on it with an Apple Pencil.

(Image credit: Apple)

iPadOS 17: New features

Every new version of the iPad operating system brings a slew of new apps, features, and functions. Here's a rundown of the coolest features Apple added to iPadOS 17. 

iPadOS 17: New lock screens

The new iPadOS 17 lock screen on an iPad held by someone.

Much like the lock screen on iOS, iPadOS 17 lets you customize the iPad lock screen with new photos and clocks. (Image credit: Apple)

New lock screens were one of the first big new features announced at WWDC. Much like the lock screen on iOS, you're able to customize the iPad lock screen with new photos and clocks. The clocks can be hidden by part of the background intelligently, plus you can change the font and layout of the clock too.

iPadOS 17: Widgets

How iPadOS 17 live activities will look.

Widgets, new to iPadOS 17, look a lot like iOS widgets (but slightly larger, of course!) (Image credit: Apple)

Also new to iPadOS are widgets that you can place on the Lock and Home screens. These widgets look a lot like the lock screen widgets you see on iOS, but they're slightly larger in line with the bigger screens of the iPad range. The widgets are interactive too, so you can turn on or off HomeKit devices, interact with Health apps, and play or skip music in Apple Music.

Such widgets carry over to your Home Screen, being able to blend seamlessly into the background, and sit alongside your apps. They're interactive too with widgets like Photos, Music, and others to add to your Home Screen. They blend in with the look screen ones, so you gain a more seamless experience.

iPadOS 17: New Health app

The Health App has come to the Apple iPad in iOS 17, giving new ways to access and explore your health data.

The Health App shown on an Apple iPad (Image credit: Apple)

Health has also come to iPad, with the bigger screen allowing for more metrics and graphs. The interface has been built with the bigger iPad screen in mind, with more information displayed on one screen.

iPadOS 17: PDF support

iPadOS 17's PDF app on an iPad placed on a wooden surface.

(Image credit: Apple)

PDFs are now a baked-in addition to the latest version of iPadOS. You can more easily edit them on your iPad thanks to this. The format has also come to the Notes app so you can annotate them and collaborate with others too.

Extra features: Stickers, Stage Manager and more

More iOS-like features are also coming to iPadOS 17. There will be new messaging Stickers as well as an expandable tray-like menu for the Messages app. FaceTime is also seeing improvements such as allowing you to connect to an Apple TV box and take calls on a bigger screen. 

Stage Manager has also been improved, with more flexibility to the position and size of windows. Freeform will offer new drawing tools, and some more new features including support for hover, tilt, and snap-to-shape. Spotlight comes to help users find information even faster with shortcuts to actions, enhanced visual results, and more.

There's a new autocorrect model for the keyboard too, in a bid to make it easier to type faster than before. Dictation is also more accurate thanks to the new speech recognition. Related to that, Siri can now be summoned without needing to say 'hey' first. Finally, AirPlay will follow user preferences to get to know when and where to connect to devices.

iPadOS 17: Latest beta

Released in early April, iPadOS 17.5 includes references to a new Battery Health menu on iPad that will show users their maximum remaining capacity and charge cycle count, just like the iPhone. It also contains references to the Apple Pencil 3 and the new OLED iPad Pro. 

iPadOS 18: Rumored features

What will iPadOS 18 bring? AI is likely to be a big thing for Apple in 2024, although details on iPadOS 18 have been almost impossible to come by so far. But AI is the common thread right now, and Apple knows that Large Language Models (LLMs) and chatbots like ChatGPT have started to become more popular — putting Siri to shame in the process.

With that context, Apple is said to be working on a new AI upgrade that will bring significant upgrades to Siri. Reportedly called Ajax GPT, the new language is reportedly a cut above what even ChatGPT can offer. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has also hinted that 2024 will be a big year for Apple in terms of its AI initiatives

Also to be expected: Apple brought its new Journal app to the iPhone with iOS 17 last year, but the app was strangely missing from the iPad and Mac. That could well change in 2024. For all the details and what else to expect, see our iPadOS 18 complete rundown.

iOS 18 is expected to bring significant AI upgrades to Xcode, Messages, Keynote, Pages, as well as overhauls to the Mail, Photos, Fitness, and Notes app. The Calendar app is expected to get a new Reminders integration, and Safari is tipped for an AI boost including a Web Eraser feature that can hide chunks of a webpage. As with Apple's other yearly software releases, its likely many, if not all of these improvements will also filter through to iPadOS. 

iPadOS 17: Release date

As always, Apple announced the latest versions of its software platforms at its developer conference, WWDC, and released them toward the end of the year. iPadOS 17 was Announced at WWDC 2023; the first public beta of the software was released on June 6, 2023. iPadOS 17 was officially released on September 18, 2023 -- and since then, five new releases have brought additional features and bug fixes to the tablet platform.

Which iPads support iPadOS 17?

iPad 2022 using Split View to show a sketching app with a poorly drawn Bart Simpson and a Safari tab open on a picture of Bart Simpson

(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

iPads tend to be supported for a long time. When Apple does remove tablets from the compatibility list, it tends to be a small number of them. iPadOS 16 only saw two devices lose support -- the iPad Air 2 (released in 2014) and the iPad mini 4 (2015). In other words, if you own one of the best iPads, you probably won't have to worry. 

There were 23 iPads support by iPadOS 16; the latest version of the software only supports 20. Here's the full list of iPads supported by iOS 17:

  • iPad mini (6th generation)
  • iPad (10th generation)
  • iPad Air (4th generation)
  • iPad Air (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (6th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad (8th generation)
  • iPad (9th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation)

Apple's new tablets announced on May 7 are also likely to ship with iPadOS 17.5, as the public release of iPadOS 18 is likely going to be September or October, as it has been in previous years. 

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself. Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings. John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019.  John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit. 

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