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iPad Q&A - Updated June 2, 2014

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What operating system do the iPad models use? Which iPad models support iOS 7? For models that "partially" support iOS 7, which features are and are not supported? Which models will support iOS 8?

Quick Update: On June 2, 2014, Apple announced iOS 8. This version will be supported by all iPad models that support iOS 7, but specific feature support has yet to be finalized. When specifics are available, this Q&A will be updated in more detail.

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 does 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 or the current version of the iOS -- iOS 7 -- and not all iPad models support these versions completely, either.

Specifically, iOS support for each iPad model follows:

iOS Version

3.2

4.3

5.x

6.x

7.x

Original iPad

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

iPad 2

No

Yes

Yes

Partial*

Partial†

iPad 3rd Gen

No

No

Yes

Yes

Partial†

iPad 4th Gen

No

No

No

Yes

Yes††

iPad mini

No

No

No

Yes

Yes††

iPad mini 2nd Gen

No

No

No

No

Yes††

iPad Air

No

No

No

No

Yes††

*Siri and FaceTime over a cellular network are not supported on the iPad 2 when running iOS 6 or iOS 7.

† The iPad 2 provides bare bones support for 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.

†† No iPad models support the Panorama and "In Camera" Filters functionality (like Instagram), but these models otherwise are fully compatible with iOS 7.

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 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 and Android devices is available, too.

The iPad cannot run OS X applications. Those interested in running OS X on a tablet -- or just curious about the possibility of a OS X-based tablet -- might be interested in the Axiotron ModBook.

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 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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