Which iPad models support iPadOS 15? Do some models “partially” support iPadOS 15? Which ones?
Apple first unveiled iPadOS 15 on June 7, 2021 and it was available for Apple Developers the same day. It was first released as a “public beta” on July 1, 2021 and the “final” consumer version shipped on September 20, 2021.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPadOS 15 on iPad Pro)
Apple mentions general iPadOS 15 compatibility in its press release, but a great deal of specific feature support only is provided in fine print elsewhere and can be a bit challenging to parse, so independent evaluation can be quite helpful.
New iPadOS 15 Features
Apple is modest in its promotion of iPadOS 15. In the press release for iPadOS 15, the company only promises “new productivity features” with “more intuitive multitasking, a new Home Screen design with integrated widgets, the App Library, systemwide note taking with Quick Note, SharePlay, a redesigned Safari experience, and new tools to stay focused.”
More specifically, Apple explains that:
> iPadOS 15 introduces a multitasking experience that is even more intuitive, making features like Split View and Slide Over easier to discover, easier to use, and more powerful. Notes goes systemwide with Quick Note, and offers new ways to collaborate and organize whether typing or writing with Apple Pencil. New widget layouts for the Home Screen and App Library offer simple ways to personalize the iPad experience and organize apps. Translate delivers new features for translating text and conversations, and users can now build apps for iPhone and iPad, on iPad, with Swift Playgrounds. iPadOS 15 also includes new privacy controls in Siri, Mail, and more places across the system to further protect user information.
Improvements to Split View and Slide Over definitely are welcomed alone; these features have long seemed to be too difficult to remember, engage, and disengage for many users. Improvements in organization, collaboration, and privacy always are welcomed, also.
Although it may not be a major feature to the majority of users, the ability to build apps for the iPhone and iPad with Swift Playgrounds on the iPad itself is a massive development. In the summer of 2021, Apple promised Swift Playgrounds 4 for “iPadOS later in the year” with the Mac version promised “in early 2022”.
When combined with the also introduced Xcode Cloud for more “serious” app creation, if you hadn’t recognized it years ago, these app development changes are a clear sign that the Mac is fading.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPadOS 15 Features)
Significant new features provided by iPadOS 15 include:
* Improved Multitasking & Keyboard Shortcuts: Finally makes it possible to go into “Split View” or “Slide Over” with a just a tap and further improvements to Keyboard Shortcuts that have been getting a bit better year after year for quite some time now.
* Organization & Personalization Improvements: More customization and organization for widgets and apps. Always welcomed.
* Quick Note: A way to take notes from anywhere and “new ways to organize, collaborate, and capture information” including tags to significantly improve categorization.
* SharePlay: Makes it possible to listen to music, watch video, or share screens or other content while connected on a FaceTime videocall.
* Improved Safari: Interface tweaks to save screen space and browse more efficiently.
* Focus: Filters notifications to stay focused on work during certain hours, wind down for sleep, or other defined categories and time periods.
* On-Device Intelligence: Long available on Android, makes an effort to find text within images, make this information actionable, provide more information from the web, and more.
* Translate: Like the Google Translate app, the iPadOS now will endeavor to translate a conversation between languages.
* Swift Playgrounds: Makes it possible to program basic iPhone and iPad apps directly on the iPad itself for the first time. This is a huge addition to the iPadOS.
Many of the improvements and additions provided by iPadOS 15 are minor, but the above ones are those Apple considers to be worthy of promotion. It is important to note that not all of these features are supported on all compatible devices, though.
iPadOS 15 Supported Devices
iPadOS 15 supports the same iPad devices as its predecessor, iPadOS 14.
A full list of supported iPad devices follows. However, remember that just because an iPad supports iPadOS 15 does not mean that it supports all features. There are some significant differences in terms of feature support documented further below.
Identification Help (Skip)
If you are not sure which iPad you have, all models can be quickly identified externally by Model Number precisely enough to determine whether or not it is supported by iPadOS 15.
These particular iPad devices support iPadOS 15:
If your iPad isn’t listed above — and it wasn’t released after September 2021 when the final version of iPadOS 15 was released but before the next version of the iPadOS — it isn’t compatible with iPadOS 15.
Although it is not as straightforward, you also could use the Order Number for identification, which is specified as “Model” within the iOS “Settings” app under General > About.
For example, in the United States, this “Model” within the iOS is MHP53LL/A, which specifically refers to an iPad Pro 12.9″ (Wi-Fi/Cell – 5th Gen) in Silver with 2 TB of storage.
Everyi.com’s Ultimate iLookup feature can identify these devices by order numbers from around the world and other identifiers, too.
iPadOS 15 Feature Support
All of the above iPad devices run iPadOS 15, but in fine print, Apple disclaims that some features only are supported by a subset of devices.
The Universal Control feature “lets users work with a single mouse and keyboard and move between Mac and iPad for a seamless experience.”
Apple notes that Universal Control only works with these iPads:
It also requires a compatible Mac:
In other words, Universal Control is not supported on the iPad (5th Gen), iPad mini (4th Gen), or iPad Air 2, even though these iPad models do run iPadOS 15.
Apple also notes that only iPad models with an “A12 Bionic and later” processor support the following features:
* Spatial Audio
* Portrait Mode
* Maps – 3D Landmarks
* Interactive Globe
* Live Text in Photos
* Live Text Translation
* Visual Look Up
There is not an easy way to know what processor your iPad contains, but Everyi.com always has documented these details on the specs pages for each iPad.
Accordingly, we can confirm that these features only are supported on these iPads:
So, although they do run iPadOS 15, the iPad 5th Gen, 6th Gen, and 7th Gen; iPad mini 4th Gen; iPad Air 2; and original iPad Pro 12.9″, iPad Pro 9.7″, iPad Pro 10.5″, and iPad Pro 12.9″ (2nd Gen) do not support these features.
iPadOS 15 Summary
Ultimately, iPadOS 15 offers a variety of mostly modest, but still worthwhile, new enhancements and features. Although some of the more substantial features are limited to recent models, those with earlier devices probably still will find some additions to be worthwhile, as well.
For basic programming, though, finally offering Swift Playgrounds for app development directly on the iPad itself is a gigantic change that shows Apple’s energy continues to shift toward the iPad and away from the Mac.
As always, Everyi.com would recommend that for those with “mission critical” iPad devices, it is a good idea to skip any public beta entirely and wait for at least a couple of “bug fix” updates before upgrading to a new operating system.