iPadOS 18 preview: Apple Intelligence, new features, release date, and more

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(Image credit: Apple / Laptop Mag)

Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference kicked off on June 10, when iPadOS 18 was officially announced! It isn't out yet, but there is a lot we know about it, including the key features and potential release date. 

This was a big year for WWDC, which is really saying something since Apple announced the Vision Pro headset at last year's developer conference. The highlight was Apple Intelligence, the new AI platform that's coming to the entire Apple ecosystem, including iPad. 

iPadOS got some cool new features of its own. Here's a look at everything that's been confirmed so far, which iPads are getting iPadOS 18, and the potential release date. 

iPadOS 18: Release date

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(Image credit: Apple)

Apple announced iPadOS 18 at the keynote presentation for WWDC 2024 on June 10. However, it has not announced an official release date yet. We can still get an estimate of when Apple will release iPadOS 18 based on previous OS release dates, though. 

Last year's iPadOS update was released on the same day as iOS 17. So, Apple could make that the new norm and release both on the same day this year, as well. However, historically iPadOS update release dates have not been as consistent as those for iOS

  • iPadOS 17: September 18, 2023 (same as iOS 17)
  • iPadOS 16: October 24, 2022
  • iPadOS 15: June 8, 2021
  • iPadOS 14: September 16, 2020 (same as iOS 14)
  • iPadOS 13: September 24, 2019 

While these dates are a bit scattered, mid to late September is the most common time frame for iPadOS updates. Unless there is some sort of delay that pushes iPadOS 18 back to October like iPadOS 16, there's a high likelihood it will release in September alongside iOS 18. 

If you're too excited about iPadOS 18 to wait until September, keep an eye out for the developer beta. This is a preview version of the new version of iPadOS that Apple will release early. It's mainly for app developers, but anyone can use it. Developer betas tend to come out in July. 

iPadOS 18: Supported devices

iPad mini 6

Some iPads, like the 2018 iPad Mini 6, might not get iPadOS 18 (Image credit: Phillip Tracy/Laptop Mag)

We can expect all of the iPads in Apple’s current line-up to be compatible with iPadOS 18, but unfortunately, some older models will likely get left behind. Apple ends software support for all of its devices eventually, but this time many features may simply be too demanding for the hardware on older iPads to handle. Specifically, Apple Intelligence might only be compatible with iPads running M-series chips. 

Current rumors hint that iPadOS 18 might not support iPads with the A10X Fusion chip and, presumably, any chips that preceded it. We could see many iPads lose software update support starting with iPadOS 18, including iPad Pros from 2017 and earlier, iPad Airs and Minis from 2018 and earlier, and standard iPads from 2019 and earlier. 

While we won't know for sure until Apple confirms device eligibility, the following iPads will likely be compatible with iPadOS 18:  

  • iPad Pros from 2018 onward
  • iPad Airs from 2019 onward
  • iPad Minis from 2019 onward
  • iPads from 2020 onward

One factor that will shake up compatibility is AI. The first version of Apple Intelligence will be available as a beta feature in iPadOS 18. That's exciting news, but it comes with a catch. Since Apple Intelligence runs mainly on-device, it likely won't be available on most older iPads due to high processing power requirements. 

There's a high probability Apple Intelligence will only run on iPads with at an M1 chip or newer. However, Apple Intelligence is an opt-in beta feature, so even if your iPad isn't compatible with it, you may still be able to download and use iPadOS 18. 

iPadOS 18: Features

Screenshots from WWDC 2024 keynote

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple announced some exciting new features for iPadOS at WWDC on June 10. For starters, you'll soon have way more freedom to customize your iPad's home screen and Control Center. You can place app icons anywhere you want in iPadOS 18 and even recolor them using a new dark mode and tints to give your iPad its own unique color theme. 

The Control Center will also have more options in iPadOS 18. There will be a "Controls Gallery" with more controls to choose from. Third-party app developers will be able to create their own controls, as well. 

Similarly, there will now be a floating tab bar in many apps. It's dynamic and customizable so it can move around your screen as needed. App animations are also getting an upgrade in iPadOS 18 to make them smoother and sharper. 

The new Math Notes feature on the iPa Calculator app as presented at WWDC 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

The next big announcement for iPadOS 18 has been a long time coming. That's right — after 14 years, the iPad is finally getting the Calculator app! I was hoping Apple would give it some advanced graphing calculator capabilities. While Apple didn't go quite that far, it did give the iPad version of the Calculator app a cool bonus feature: Math Notes

This feature can comprehend math written with the Apple Pencil and complete calculations for you. It can also recognize variables and create graphs. This feature could be especially helpful for students, but it's also handy for anyone who does their budgeting on their iPad, like I do. 

Apple is also adding a "Smart Script" feature to the Notes app on iPad. This feature can recognize and learn your handwriting style, allowing your iPad to clean up quick or messy handwriting and even convert typed text to match your handwriting. 

Finally, the iPad version of SharePlay is also getting an upgrade. In iPadOS 18 you will be able to tap and draw on-screen in SharePlay and even remotely control someone else's iPad. This feature would be handy for helping someone out with tech difficulties on their iPad. 

Apple also announced last month that several new accessibility features are coming to the iPad. The most exciting feature is eye tracking controls, which allows users to navigate their iPad using just their eyes, similar to how the Vision Pro headset tracks eye movement. 

Screenshots from WWDC 2024 keynote

(Image credit: Apple)

While it isn't exactly a feature, Apple also announced at WWDC 2024 that more games will soon be coming to iPadOS. On June 6, Ubisoft released Assassin's Creed: Mirage on iPads running M-series chips. The next game in the series, Assassin's Creed: Shadows, will also be released on iPad. 

Apple also announced a new version of Game Porting Toolkit, which means it will now be easier for more developers to port Mac and Windows games over to iPadOS. With more iPads running M-series chips, the future looks bright for gaming on the iPad. 

Apple could reveal more new features between WWDC and the final release date for iPadOS 18, so stay tuned for more news, rumors, and details. 

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Stevie Bonifield
Freelance Writer

Stevie Bonifield is a freelance tech journalist specializing in keyboards, peripherals, gaming gear, and mobile tech. Outside of writing, Stevie loves indie games, photography, and building way too many custom keyboards