Apple surprised the crowd at WWDC by revealing that this year there will be a separate version of iOS for iPad. This iPadOS will be arriving today (24 September 2019), and when it does it will bring a variety of features to the iPad that will take advantage of the bigger display and will better suit the different way that people use tablets.

You may be keen to install iPadOS on your iPad. Following iOS 13's launch on 19 September you may be wondering when you will be able to update your iPad to the new software and what you will need to do to get iPadOS on your iPad.

In this article we explain what you will need to do to update your iPad to the new software, including what to do if you encounter problems, like not having enough space, not being able to connect to Wi-Fi, and what to do if you encounter problems with the update. Read on to find out more!

How to get iPadOS on your iPad

How to get iPadOS now

You could get iPadOS ahead of the launch if you signed up for Apple's beta program - there are two beta programs, one for developers and one for the general public - but beware that this isn't the final version of iPadOS, and it could be buggy, so we don't recommend installing it on your iPad if you depend on the device for work. Read about the beta program for iPadOS here.

Should you install iPadOS?

When iPadOS becomes available - on 24 September, according to Apple - you will see an alert on your iPad that there is new software available.

However, rather than just tap to install, we suggest you make sure you really want to run the new software on your iPad. A couple of years ago Apple replaced the Videos app with the TV app and, while the TV app is great, one of the functions of the Video app meant that series would continually play, without it being necessary to agree to watch the next episode. Anyone who has children will understand how annoying it is that we now have to tap play on each episode of Peppa Pig. Just be sure that the new features are worth any inconveniences caused by lost features. 

In terms of new features, we are particularly excited about being able to use the iPad as a second screen for our Mac (note, this won't be the case with every iPad model). We also like the idea that we will be able to have multiple windows open in an app and view them side. 

How to get iPadOS on iPad: Should I install?

You should also do a bit of spring-cleaning with your iPad before installing the update: it's very important that you back it up, because you don't want to lose any important data, but you should also spend some time clearing some space so that you have enough storage for the new update. We tend to store lots of movies and TV shows on our iPad, so if you need space these could be removed - if you downloaded them from iTunes or one of the other services you should be able to download them again later on.

If you aren't sure whether you want to update your iPad to iPadOS 13 read all about iPadOS here first.

How to install iPadOS 13

When iPadOS arrives, you will probably see an alert on your iPad that will inform you that it is ready to download. However, you might have to go to settings to get your iPad to reach out for it.

  1. Plug your iPhone into a power supply - iOS 13 won't install if you don't plug into the mains.
  2. You'll also need to be connected to Wi-Fi, not via 3G or 4G. Also, check it's a safe network. (We don't recommend you do this over hotel Wi-Fi, for instance.) We have some tips on how to download iPadOS if you don't have Wi-Fi below.
  3. Go to Settings > General > Software Update and wait for the iPad to find the update. It is possible that you will see a message 'Your software is up to date.' Sometimes there's a bit of a wait until the software becomes available, but it is possible that iPadOS won't run on your iPad - check our list of iPadOS compatible iPads here
  4. Assuming there is a new version available, tap Download and Install.
  5. Enter your passcode when prompted, and agree to the terms & conditions if required.
  6. Your device will download the update in the background. You'll see an indication of how much time it is likely to take - in our experience this is very far from the mark! Double it/triple it even! You can at least carry on with other things while the download happens. Once the download has finished you will receive a notification on your iPad.
  7. Now Tap Details on the Notification window. This will take you back to Settings > General > Software Update.
  8. Tap Install Now. (Again, expect this step to take a while - especially if it's on the night the software arrives!)
  9. Alternatively, you can select Later. iOS will offer to update during the night - you just need to make sure the device is plugged in.

How to download iPadOS without Wi-Fi

If you want to install iPadOS but don't have access to Wi-Fi - or if you don't know if the Wi-FI you have access too is secure because it's at a hotel/restaurant - you might be wondering whether you can update iPadOS using cellular or mobile data.

Unfortunately you can't download iOS 13 using cellular data - Apple limits downloads to 200MB, which is understandable as even 'unlimited' contracts aren't always truly unlimited. But there is a workaround.

To download iPadOS using mobile data (or cellular data) follow these steps:

  1. Create a Hotspot from your iPhone and connect to that from your iPad.
  2. Run through the options to download and install iPadOS.

Your iPad will proceed to download iPadOS using your data connection from your iPhone.

How to download iPadOS via iTunes

Alternatively, if your Mac happens to be connected to the internet via Ethernet, or another way, you could download iPadOS using iTunes. Note that when Apple resigns iTunes with the arrival of Catalina the Finder will manage things like software downloads.

  1. Open iTunes on your iMac and plug in your iPad.
  2. Click on the icon in iTunes that represents your iPad.
  3. Click on Check for Updates.
  4. Run through the options to download and install iPadOS.

How to download iPadOS if you don't have space

Downloading via iTunes is also a great way to install iPadOS on your iPad if you don't have enough space on your tablet, so follow the steps above.

Alternatively, You could try these steps to make some more space.

iPadOS

Will iPhone update erase my data

Understandably, if you are low on space you may be worried that you will lose some of your data if you install the new iPad update. It's understandable that some people are concerned about this, because it's happened in the past. However, it should be the case that once the iPadOS update has installed all your data will be intact, and if it isn't, well you have a backup don't you?

Make sure you back up your phone before updating.

Why won’t my iPad update

You may be wondering why your iPad isn't showing the update as available. There are a few reasons why this might be the case.

  • You might just be too eager - we will have to wait until later in the year before the iPadOS update appears, and even then you may have to wait a little longer than some people before it appears on your device. Inevitably someone you know will see it sooner.
  • Your iPad might be too old to run iPadOS. The oldest qualifying iPad is the 2014 iPad Air 2.
  • You might not be connected to Wi-Fi - as we said above, you need Wi-Fi, but there are workarounds.
  • You might not be plugged in - you need to be plugged in or Apple will stop the installation happening (just in case you run out of battery half-way through).

If those points don't apply to you, try installing via iTunes as we detailed above.

iPad update is frozen

If, despite following all our advice the update is taking a long time, or appears to have frozen or got stuck near the end, we suggest you look through these tips: What to do if you can't update your iPad or iPhone.

How to upgrade iPadOS from a beta version

If you previously tried out a beta version of iPadOS ahead of its full release, you should note that in order to get upcoming non-beta iPadOS releases you will need to remove the Apple configuration profile from your device.

You can do this by going to Settings > General > Profile and selecting iPadOS Beta Software Profile, then choosing Delete Profile and entering your passcode to confirm the change. From now on you will receive official updates (rather than beta updates) as normal.

How to get a copy of the old version of iOS

If you change your mind later and want to downgrade to iOS 12. (Note that downgrading is really tricky, so we can't even guarantee that having the old version will mean you can revert to iOS 12.)

  1. On your Mac open the Finder.
  2. Go to Library then find the iTunes folder. If you can't see this, hold down the Option/Alt key in Finder and selecting Go > Library.
  3. Select the Software Updates folder for your iPad if it's there. (It won't be if you have never downloaded an iOS update on your Mac, but you can rectify that by opening iTunes, plugging in your iPad and running through the steps to download iOS 12 on your Mac).
  4. Alternatively, launch your web browser and go to IPSW.me and find the right one for your device.

We have an article that goes through how to revert to iOS 12 or earlier here.

If you have already started the update and are finding that there are problems, read what to do if you can't update iOS.

And if your iPad doesn't run iPadOS, you might want to check our roundup of the Best iPad deals so you can save money while bagging yourself a new iPad.