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Apple first revealed iPadOS 17, along with macOS Sonoma, iOS 17, and watchOS 10, during WWDC23. This time around, the company focused on catching up with the iPhone by introducing some features that have been available on iOS for a while. These include the customizable Lock Screen and Health app. But there are still other changes beyond that, and we will be detailing everything you need to know about iPadOS 17 below.

iPadOS 17: Release date and availability

iPadOS 17 settings app

iPadOS 17 is already available as a pre-release version for those in the developer and public beta programs. Should you choose to install iPadOS 17 beta on your device, do keep in mind that it is likely going to have some bugs as it is a test version of the software, but you can easily roll it back if necessary.

However, we don't know right now when the official version of iPadOS 17 will arrive. In the past, Apple has dropped the completed software during the fall around the announcement of the new iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad. So, if you don't want to take a chance on running an unfinished operating system on your beloved tablet, you'll likely be waiting until September for it to arrive on these recent iPad models:

  • iPad 6 and later
  • iPad Mini 5 and later
  • iPad Air 3 and later
  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 and later
  • All 11-inch iPad Pro models and later
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro

What's new in iPadOS 17

Personalized Lock Screens

iPad Air 5 running iPadOS 17 beta

iOS 16's highlight was arguably its customizable lock screen. If you've missed the news, users can now add advanced personalizations to this part of iOS, including the ability to change the time's typeface, color, and language. That's in addition to being able to insert handy widgets and create different wallpapers from scratch. Meanwhile, the iPadOS 16 Lock Screen received — drum roll, please — nothing.

Now, Apple is giving iPad users a taste of the refreshed lock screen features it brought to the iPhone 14 series last year. Tablet users will be able to use Live Photo wallpapers on the lock screen. By picking a Live Photo from your gallery, the new iPadOS 17 will intelligently create a slow-motion video that moves and reacts as you unlock your iPad.

Along with the wallpaper itself, you'll also have the ability to choose the clock style, color, and even thickness of the lock screen's font. But perhaps the biggest change coming here in iPadOS 17 are Widgets. You'll be able to add your favorite widgets to the lock screen, so you can have glanceable information without having to unlock your tablet.

Making the lock screen even more useful will be Live Activities, which will let you see quick bits of information on things happening in real-time, like the score of a sporting event you're following, the status of a ride-share or food order, timers, and more.

Improved widgets

Widgets on iPadOS 17
Source: Apple

Apple is bringing even more functionality to Widgets beyond just adding them to the lock screen. It's working on making them more interactive in iPadOS 17. Say you have a widget with your reminders. You'll be able to check off tasks you've completed, and the widget and app will update accordingly. You can also control your smart home, play audio, and more. This new feature works not only on the iPad's home screen but also on your lock screen.

Enhanced PDF editing

Autofill on a PDF on iPadOS 17
Source: Apple

PDFs have become a standard format for sending documents for viewing, not editing. However, sometimes editing is a desired feature for a particular form, such as filling out information like an address. iPadOS 17 is bringing improvements to your ability to manage these documents by analyzing the PDF and identifying text boxes for data entry. Once found, you can fill out your details and even import that info from your contacts.

Adding to the PDF improvements, the Notes app will be able to integrate these documents. PDFs will be viewable at the full-screen width to make things like annotating and sketching with the Apple Pencil easy. Live collaboration will also be possible in the Notes app, so you and your friend, co-worker, or family members can work on ideas together and see it all in real-time.

More fun with Messages

Live stickers in Messages in iPadOS 17
Source: Apple

Messages is an app that all iPhone users love, but it's also excellent on the iPad thanks to the synced messages and wider screen. In that spirit, Apple is bringing Live Stickers to the app. You can create your own stickers by lifting images from a photo, so you can paste them into conversations or react to other messages. There is a new drawer that resides at the bottom of the Keyboard to access all of your favorite stickers.

Sometimes we send voice messages in the app because we can't type at the moment, it's too long of a message to type, or we just feel like it. But the person receiving this message may not be in a place where they can listen to your voice message. Now, Messages will automatically transcribe audio messages, so you can read them in those times when listening isn't an option.

Some other ease-of-use features are coming to Messages for iPadOS 17, like swiping on a message to quickly reply in line, tapping on the new up arrow to jump to the last unread message, and when you choose to share your location within a conversation, it will continue showing live until you've stopped it.

Safari is getting safer

Apple is adding some new features to Safari to make it safer and help keep work and play separate. You can now create different Profiles for yourself, like personal and work, so you can keep those cookies, history, tag groups, and more separate. Now, you won't have anything you view in regular life on your work side and vice versa.

Private Browsing is also getting some improvements. If you were to step away from your device, someone could theoretically look at your browser and see what you're doing. With the new update, you can lock the Safari window using Face ID or Touch ID so that nobody can view your browser window even if you aren't there to stop them.

More ways to keep tabs on your health

Health app on iPadOS 17 beta

The Health app will be accessible on your iPad thanks to the OS update. You can see even more information stored in your Health profile on the larger screen. All the data your Apple Watch is gathering can be viewed and acted upon just as it would be on your iPhone, just with more room to take it all in. There is also access for developers to use the HealthKit API for iPad to develop their apps further to take advantage of the large-screen iPad.

Additional updates

  • Stage Manager will offer users more ways to arrange and resize their windows to provide the most efficient and enjoyable space for themselves.
  • Freeform adds new tools when drawing that allows the ability to hover, tile, and snap to shape. There's also the new feature to add connection lines or shapes to objects.
  • Siri can now respond by simply saying "Siri" rather than "Hey, Siri."

Live right now in beta

iPadOS 17 beta is live right now for developers and for the public. While Apple didn't announce any major changes that bring the iPad closer to becoming a laptop replacement, the changes that are coming provide a better overall experience — a more cohesive one.

We've included all the major changes announced for iPadOS 17, but there are a few smaller changes coming as well that you can find directly through Apple here.