Today Apple confirmed that the next generation of iPadOS has been delayed. And developer beta 7 of iOS 16 and watchOS 9 and tvOS 16 have landed. Both iOS 16 and watchOS 9 have reached ‘Candidate A’ build numbers, meaning they’re essentially finished. Expect a release candidate soon.
iPadOS 16 delayed
For a while now, chatter amongst the Apple community suggested that iPadOS 16 is being delayed. Now Apple has confirmed that it is indeed delaying the release. Significant bugs, instability and poor optimisation of Apple’s new Stage Manager feature were all likely reasons for the delay.
In a statement to Tech Crunch, Apple referred to the unique feature set of iPadOS 16 and that it is no longer a goal for release parity with iOS 16.
This is an especially big year for iPadOS. As its own platform with features specifically designed for iPad, we have the flexibility to deliver iPadOS on its own schedule. This Fall, iPadOS will ship after iOS, as version 16.1 in a free software update.Apple via Techcrunch
It’s absolutely true that this is a big release for the iPad. Stage Manager completely changes how you use your iPad when activated. And when inactive, your iPad behaves much as it does now. However, such a large change to a mature operating system was likely to incur stumbling blocks along the way.
iPadOS 16 will now release as iPadOS 16.1, skipping the 16.0 update. It will release later in the year, likely to align with new iPad models coming this autumn.
The AppleTLDR take
Apple has internal deadlines for software releases but they’re more flexible than you might imagine. It’s why it’s impossible to predict with any meaningful precision when an update will go live. Apple confirms as such with statements like “iOS 16 is coming this fall”.
Even if we zoom out from a final release and look at beta releases, they don’t always arrive on the same day. They do tend to follow a pattern, however. For example, we often see beta releases on Tuesdays at 10 am pacific time or 6 pm UK time. The pattern can be broken during the validation process.
Apple has multiple stages of validation before ‘release readiness’ is signed off on. Project Managers give initial sign-off before more senior stakeholders validate their team’s work and give senior sign-off. There is of course user acceptance testing (UAT) that occurs too. Any delays or issues that occur during validation or UAT can delay a beta. Significant issues having been discovered in iPadOS 16, can throw off the launch window altogether.
Apple was right to delay here. It’s much better to take more time when major features like Stage Manager are in the mix. You want customers’ first experience of such drastic changes to feel polished, refined and complete.