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iPad Q&A - Updated September 27, 2016

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What operating system do the iPad models use? Which iPad models support iOS 10? For models that "partially" support iOS 10, which features are and are not supported?

The original Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi/3G/GPS iPad models first shipped with iPhone OS 3.2 (subsequently renamed the "iOS"). At the time, it was disappointing to many as this version of the iOS did not support true system-wide multitasking.

However, iOS 4 was released in a few months and the original iPad models support multitasking when upgraded to iOS 4 or later. All subsequent iPad models shipped, or ship, with a version of the iOS that supports system wide-multitasking by default, as well.

However, not all iPad models support iOS 6, iOS 7, iOS 8, iOS 9, or the current version of the iOS -- iOS 10 -- and not all iPad models support these versions completely, either.

Specifically, iOS support for each iPad model follows:

iOS 3.2-iOS 6

iOS Version

3.2

4.3

5.x

6.x

Original iPad

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

iPad 2

No

Yes

Yes

Partial*

iPad 3rd Gen

No

No

Yes

Yes

iPad 4th Gen

No

No

No

Yes

iPad mini

No

No

No

Yes

iPad mini 2

No

No

No

No

iPad mini 3

No

No

No

No

iPad mini 4

No

No

No

No

iPad Air

No

No

No

No

iPad Air 2

No

No

No

No

iPad Pro

No

No

No

No

iOS 7-iOS 10

iOS Version

7.x

8.x

9.x

10.x

Original iPad

No

No

No

No

iPad 2

Partial†

Partial†

Partial†

No

iPad 3rd Gen

Partial‡

Partial‡

Partial‡

No

iPad 4th Gen

Yes††

Partial♦

Partial♦

Partial++

iPad mini

Yes††

Partial♦

Partial♦

No

iPad mini 2

Yes††

Yes♦♦

Yes♦♦

Yes

iPad mini 3

Yes††

Yes+

Yes+

Yes

iPad mini 4

No

No

Yes

Yes

iPad Air

Yes††

Yes♦♦

Yes♦♦

Yes

iPad Air 2

Yes††

Yes+

Yes+

Yes

iPad Pro

Yes††

Yes+

Yes+

Yes


*Siri and FaceTime over a cellular network are not supported on the iPad 2 when running iOS 6 or later.

† The iPad 2 provides bare bones support for iOS 7, iOS 8, and iOS 9 with no advanced features supported.

‡ When running iOS 7, the iPad 3rd Gen supports Siri, Filters in Photos, and advanced photo functionality that Apple formally refers to as "square and video formats and swipe to capture," but it does not support AirDrop. When running iOS 8 and iOS 9, it continues to support Siri, but supports no other advanced features.

†† These iPad models do not support the Panorama and "In Camera" Filters functionality (like Instagram), but these models otherwise are fully compatible with iOS 7.

♦ The iPad 4th Gen and original iPad mini support iOS 8 including AirDrop, Siri, and Continuity, but do not support Panorama photography, Health, or Apple Pay. Running iOS 9, the original iPad mini and iPad 4th Gen support neither Transit nor multitasking features like Slide Over, Picture-in-Picture, and Split View.

♦♦ The original iPad Air and iPad mini 2 fully support iOS 8 with the exception of Health and Apple Pay. Interestingly, Apple quietly added Panorama photography support to these models with iOS 8.0.2, which was not supported with iOS 7. Running iOS 9, these models support Transit, Slide Over, and Picture-in-Picture, but not Split View.

+ The iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2 fully support iOS 8 with the exception of Health. It also is worth noting that although they support Apple Pay, they only support Apple Pay for purchases within apps and not within physical retail stores. Running iOS 9, the iPad mini 3 supports Slide Over and Picture-in-Picture, but not Split View. The iPad Air 2 supports both.

++ The iPad 4th Gen supports iOS 10, but it does not support Rich Notifications nor does it support the minor Raise to Wake or Ride-Booking features that are not supported by any iPad models.

Please also note that once an iPad device has been upgraded to a later version of the operating system, it can be challenging to "downgrade" it back to an earlier version without resorting to hacks. It's always wise to wait for feedback from other users and a couple of "bug fix" releases before upgrading the operating system.

If you are not sure which iPad you have, see EveryiPad.com's iPad Identification section.

Will operating system updates for the iPad be free like the iPhone or will they cost money like the iPod touch?

As first spotted by MacRumors in the original iPad licensing agreement, the next major version of the operating system (4.x) would be provided free of charge. Indeed, iOS 4 was provided free of charge.

At the time the iPad first was released, operating system updates were free for the contractually bound iPhone, but cost money for the no contract iPod touch. Based on the fact that Apple only stated the next major version of the iOS would be free and that the iPad was not bound by a contract, EveryiPad.com originally speculated that subsequent versions of the operating system presumably would cost money. However, the site also noted that "only time will tell."

In a nice surprise, Apple released iOS 5 at no charge for those using earlier iPad models. Apple has released all subsequent revisions of the iOS free of charge, too. It certainly appears that Apple now considers free iOS updates to be strategically important to encourage as many users as possible to upgrade to the latest version.

However, it also is important to be aware that Apple notes operating system "updates and releases may not necessarily include all of the new software features that Apple releases for newer iPad models" or support older iPad models at all.

Can applications that run on the iPhone and iPod touch run on the iPad models? Can the iPad models run Mac OS X applications?

Applications that can run on the iPhone and iPod touch models -- with the exception of applications that require hardware capabilities that the iPad models lack (such as a "phone" for any iPad or a camera for the original iPad models) -- can run on the iPad either at actual size centered in the middle of the larger iPad screen or "doubled" (which "blows up" each pixel in the iPhone/iPod touch application to twice its size).

Of course, the iPad also can run apps and webapps designed explicitly for the iPad, like EveryMac.com's own EveryMac app for the iPad. A version of the EveryMac app for the iPhone and iPod touch, Android, and Kindle Fire devices is available, too.

The iPad cannot run OS X applications, though.

Also see: How does the iPad compare to the Axiotron ModBook? Which one is best for my needs?

Can the iPad run Linux?

Yes. As widely anticipated upon the release of the original iPad, hardworking hackers have managed to run Linux on a "jailbroken" iPad. This kind of hack definitely is not necessary -- or even desirable -- for most users, but for the hacker community, running Linux on anything is a regular rite of passage.


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