These changes are starting this year with the delay of iPadOS 16’s release. In fact, iPadOS 16.0 will never be released, skipping directly to version 16.1 when it does arrive. The slight problem is that Apple hasn’t yet revealed when it will actually launch iPadOS 16.1, only that it will come after iOS 16’s availability. Speculation points to an October release date — around the time that Apple will launch new iPads — as the perfect timing for this.
For users, this change in schedule might not be so significant as long as they still get the update. App developers, on the other hand, may suddenly find themselves at a confusing and stressful crossroads. Many iOS apps today target both iOS and iPadOS in a single bundle, and the joint release of the two platforms makes it convenient to release app updates for both at the same time as, well. With two separate release dates, however, these universal apps will either have to be delayed until the launch of a matching iPadOS version or launch with a potentially broken or incomplete iPadOS app in the bundle.
It’s definitely something Apple will have to address soon now that it has dropped this bombshell for developers. It’s still curious that Apple would take such an unusual move that will become its new strategy moving forward. This year’s iPadOS delay could be related to fixing bugs with the new Stage Manager feature, something that the new iPadOS 16.1 beta is trying to address, but making that delay the de facto standard for iPadOS still sounds both interesting and perplexing.