Apple to delay iPad software launch by a month in unusual move

Apple Inc. expects to delay its next major iPad software update by about a month, taking the unusual step of not releasing it at the same time as the new iPhone software, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

For the last several years, the tech giant has released major iPad and iPhone software updates, known as iPadOS and iOS, at the same time in September. This time around, Apple plans to put out iOS 16 during the usual period but not launch iPadOS 16 until October, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.

The delay of the software is due, at least in part, to an ambitious effort to overhaul the iPad’s multitasking capabilities. The update includes a feature called Stage Manager that lets users operate several tasks at the same time, resize windows and bounce between different clusters of apps.

During beta testing, the system has drawn criticism from some developers and users for its bugs, a confusing interface and lack of compatibility with most iPads. Staggering the release schedule will also allow Apple to put more engineering resources into completing iOS 16, the software update that will come included with the iPhone 14 in September.

The change also would bring the iPadOS 16 release closer to the launch of new iPad hardware. The company is planning an updated iPad Pro with an M2 chip, along with a faster entry-level iPad with a USB-C port, Bloomberg has reported.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the plans, which could change as the Cupertino, California-based company gets closer to its fall product launch cycle.

Even before the additional delay, Apple’s software releases have been slightly behind schedule this year, with the public beta phase of the updates starting later than usual. But the company has dealt with these kinds of hitches before. Apple faced significant challenges with iOS 13 in 2019, which affected the debut of the iPhone 11, leading Apple to change the way it handles software updates.

The Mac is getting the same Stage Manager feature as part of macOS Ventura, but that version of the system has been less controversial. The Mac update is scheduled for release in October, the same month Apple typically rolls out major Mac software upgrades. And watchOS 9, the latest Apple Watch software, is still slated for September alongside the iPhone update.

The iPadOS 16 update also includes new features such as a built-in weather app, improved support for external displays and new Mac-like controls for productivity apps. The iOS 16 update, meanwhile, includes a redesigned lock screen, the ability to retract messages on iMessage and a redesigned Home app for controlling accessories.

Apple has already said that several features planned for iPadOS 16 and iOS 16 won’t arrive in their initial versions. That includes a feature called Live Activities that will let apps like Uber pin a pickup’s status on the iPhone’s lock screen. There’s also a redesigned CarPlay interface on its way, and an iPad whiteboarding app called Freeform.