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iPadOS 18: Rumors, features, release date, iPad compatibility, more

Updated Apr 5th, 2024 9:23AM EDT
iPadOS 17 new Lock Screen
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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iPadOS 18 is Apple’s upcoming operating system for its iPad models. After offering a few design changes and focusing on health with iPadOS 17, Apple might focus on AI applications and other key changes with its next iPadOS update, as it also readies a new iPad Pro.

Here’s everything we know so far about iPadOS 18.

What will Apple call the next iPadOS?

While it’s difficult to predict what Apple might call macOS system versions, it’s pretty straightforward with iPadOS.

If Apple follows the trend, iPadOS 17’s successor will be called iPadOS 18. Internally, Apple calls this next operating system Crystal – but, of course, it doesn’t mean the Cupertino firm will name its iPadOS updates the way it does with macOS.

iPadOS 18 features

Unlike hardware releases, it’s difficult to know which software improvements Apple will bring to its new operating systems since it’s all in-house. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said iOS 18 is going to be “ambitious and compelling.” While not all iPhone features might launch for the iPad, we might get this with iPadOS 18.

Journal app

iOS 17's Journal app logoImage source: Apple

First launched with iOS 17, it makes sense if Apple expands this app for the iPad with iPadOS 18. Using on-device machine learning, it displays personalized suggestions that can inspire a user’s journal entry.

Suggestions are intelligently curated from recent activity, including photos, people, places, workouts, and more, making it easy to start a journal entry, and scheduled notifications can help build a journaling habit. These are three reasons why you should start journaling today on your iPhone.

AI is key – and should come to iPadOS 18 too

With several Apple AI features expected for iOS 18, they could also be available with iPadOS 18. Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman corroborates with Jeff Pu and The Information, as he believes generative AI will be a massive part of the system. These are some use cases:

  • Auto-summarizing and auto-complete features for core apps and productivity software (Pages, Keynote). This was also rumored by leaker yeux1122, which says code on iOS 18 suggests this function.
  • Better playlist creation in Apple Music
  • Siri (a big overall overhaul with a focus on AI)
  • Code completion in a new version of Xcode for developers
  • AppleCare tools to assist employees in helping customers with troubleshooting

Tim Cook confirms AI is coming – but core features might be left for later

Apple CEO Tim Cook before WWDC 2023 keynote kicked offImage source: Apple Inc.

During Apple’s first earnings call of the year, the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, did not mention any operating system by name. But he did address AI twice, teasing the upcoming announcements. He did it once during his remarks, right after reminding those on the call about the Vision Pro launch.

Cook said Apple will spend a “tremendous amount of time and effort” on AI, with details coming later this year.

Moments like these [the Vision Pro launch] are what we live for at Apple. They’re why we do what we do. They’re why we’re so unflinchingly dedicated to groundbreaking innovation and why we’re so focused on pushing technology to its limits as we work to enrich the lives of our users. 

As we look ahead, we will continue to invest in these and other technologies that will shape the future. That includes artificial intelligence, where we continue to spend a tremendous amount of time and effort, and we’re excited to share the details of our ongoing work in that space later this year.

Haitong Securities analyst Jeff Pusays that even though generative AI will start to take shape later this year with the iPhone, he expects it to be limited with some AI-related hardware upgrades for the iPhone 16 with the A18 and A18 Pro chips. “We expect a better-functioned Gen AI to be in 2025, likely with iPhone 17, a time to lift Apple’s product/service businesses.”

Some AI features might be powered by Google Gemini, ChatGPT, and Baidu

Google Gemini illustration
The Google AI logo is displayed on a smartphone with Gemini in the background in this photo illustration. Image source: Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images

According to Bloomberg, Apple is apparently in talks with Google to license Gemini after previously considering OpenAI’s ChatGPT. While there’s no telling if Apple will partner with Google, the move isn’t necessarily surprising. Gemini already powers generative AI features on the Pixel 8 and the Galaxy S24. The latter certainly made an impression earlier this year.

Apple’s interest in it makes sense since Google operates one of the best generative AI products out there. Apple partnered with Google to make Google Search the iPhone’s default search engine. That’s because Google Search is (or used to be) the best online search option in town. And Google is ready to pay billions to make that deal happen.

On the one hand, it’s exciting to hear that Apple is open to such partnerships. Whether Gemini, ChatGPT, or something else, Apple could use a third-party large language model to power some AI features on the iPhone. The alternative is waiting for its own Apple GPT to become as powerful as the GPTs of Google and OpenAI.

A report also believes Apple will use Baidu for its generative AI functions in China. Baidu’s Ernie Bot is a ChatGPT rival and one of the more than 40 AI models from China that local regulators have approved. Considering the growing regional competition, a partnership with Apple would be a big win for Baidu. 

Freeform app update

According to MacRumors, Apple is preparing for an update to the Freeform app. The publication says a new “Freeform Scenes” feature is coming with iPadOS 18, which will help with board navigation. Users will be able to select, edit, name, and collaborate with scenes.

The Freeform Scenes UI will be located near the zoom controls. With a new sandwich bar, it will display individual arrow icons for navigation between scenes. Apple is even preparing keyboard shortcuts for this feature, which include:

  • Save: Shift + Command + S
  • Next Scene: Option + Command + ]
  • Previous Scene: Option + Command + [

Apple ID might change to an Apple Account brand

Apple is reportedly considering changing the name of Apple ID to “Apple Account.” It could happen once iOS 18 arrives. While it’s unclear why Apple might make the change, it would make a lot more sense in the context of Apple’s current business.

Sources who are supposedly familiar with Apple’s plans informed MacRumors that Apple is already testing the Apple Account name.

If Apple switches Apple ID to Apple Account, it would happen alongside the releases of iPadOS 18 (codename Crystal) and macOS 15 (codename Glow), says the blog. “System applications will receive modifications to reflect the change, as will Apple’s website — assuming the company chooses to implement the new branding.”

The sources aware of Apple’s work on the Apple ID rebrand did not explain why the rebrand is needed. Clarity could be the main reason.

New emojis

iOS 17.4 new emojisImage source: José Adorno for BGR

During every iPadOS cycle, Apple always adds new emojis. Even though they don’t come with the first major update, the company unveils them during the life cycle of the newest operating system, most likely with version x.4 of that system.

iPadOS 18 release date

Apple announced WWDC 2024 will take place on June 10. This means Apple will preview and release the first beta of iPadOS 18 to users on that day. In July, a public beta of the iPad operating system will be made available to consumers. The official release date of iPadOS 18.0 will likely be in the fall, close to the iPhone 16 launch.

Supported devices

Apple's iPad lineup as of March 2022
Apple’s iPad lineup as of March 2022. Image source: Apple Inc. Image source: Apple Inc.

With iPadOS 17, Apple cut off the iPad 5 and the first-gen iPad Pro for this operating system. That said, it’s unclear if the company might cut more iPad models with iPadOS 18. A rumor says Apple will continue to support the same iPhones it supported with iOS 17, but it will cut some iPads.

Here are the possible supported models:

  • iPad Pro (2018 or newer)
  • iPad Air 3 or newer
  • iPad mini 5 or newer
  • iPad 7 gen or newer

Official iPadOS 18 download

iPadOS 17.1Image source: Apple Inc.

iPadOS 18 isn’t officially out, so you can’t download it yet.

Can I download the iPadOS 18 beta?

Not yet. Once it’s available, enroll your developer Apple ID and follow these steps:

  • On your iPad, open the Settings app
  • Tap on General and Software Update
  • Tap on Beta Updates and enable iPOS 18 Developer Beta

How to download iPadOS 18 public beta?

You can’t. But once it’s available, you’ll need to enroll your ID in the Apple Beta Software Program. After that, follow these steps:

  • Open Settings;
  • Go to General, then Software Update;
  • In Beta Updates, select iPadOS 18 Public Beta;
  • Download the public beta version.
José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.