Apple releases macOS Ventura, iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16

Stage Manager is the highlight on Mac and iPad, while Apple Fitness+ has arrived on iPhone.

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

It's a major Apple update day, as the company is rolling out new versions of its iPhone, iPad and Mac operating systems. While iPhone users at large have already had a taste of iOS 16, this will be the first time that most folks will get their hands on iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura.

Apple delayed the release of iPadOS 16 amid reports suggesting it needed more time to polish up the Stage Manager multitasking feature (which we felt was unrefined in an early iPadOS 16 beta). In fact, Apple said it was skipping a public release of iPadOS 16 and going straight to version 16.1 — just in time for the company's latest iPad Pro and entry-level iPad shipping this week.

The latest version of the iPad operating system will include many of the same updates as iOS 16, including significant changes to Mail, Safari, Messages and other key apps. There are more collaboration-centric features, while the Weather and Clock apps are finally coming to iPad. External display support for Stage Manager will arrive within the next couple of months.

Also later this year, Apple will release a collaborative productivity iPad app called Freeform. It seems like a souped-up whiteboard where users can sketch out ideas with Apple Pencil. The company says you'll be able to attach just about any kind of file to the canvas, including images, videos, audio, PDFs, documents and URLs, and preview the content inline

Apple's Freeform app on iPad

Stage Manager is also the main attraction of macOS Ventura. During our hands-on with the beta, we felt that the feature improved the multitasking experience on Mac. The Continuity Camera feature, which offers a native way to use your iPhone as a Mac webcam, sounds intriguing, as does the introduction of shared tab groups and passkeys to Safari.

More accessibility options are always welcome too. With macOS Ventura, Apple is adding Live Captions for all audio content, a Type to Speak function for calls, a Text Checker proofreading tool for those who use the VoiceOver screen reader and other tools. Meanwhile, it's worth noting that the System Preferences menu is now called System Settings, and it has a redesign to align it more with iPhone and iPad settings.

As for iOS 16.1, that offers shared photo libraries through iCloud and a clean energy charging function, which optimizes iPhone charging times depending on when the power grid is using greener energy sources (though that feature is US-only for now). Apple Fitness+ is now available on iPhone without the need for an Apple Watch. Also new are an improved battery life icon, third=party app support in Live Activities and per-app copy-and-paste permissions, which should mitigate iOS 16's irritating paste prompts.

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