This week, Apple held its WWDC event, ushering in a new era of software for its iOS 16, iPadOS 16, watchOS 9, and macOS 13 devices. While there were plenty of highlights, iPadOS 16 might be the most curious, as the new update blurs the lines even further between Apple’s tablet and computing products. Furthermore, iPadOS 16 will allow manufacturers to create drivers for iPad, ushering in a new wave of devices that can be connected to Apple’s tablet.
Previously, DriverKit was used exclusively on Apple’s Mac computing products and was introduced in 2019. It was developed in order to offer a more reliable and secure method to deliver drivers to Mac users. With iPadOS 16, Apple is delivering the same reliability and security, just on a different platform. If there is one caveat of the system, it is that it only currently applies to iPads powered by Apple’s own silicon. For now, that means iPads running an M1 chip.
New hardware support for M1-powered iPads thanks to DriverKit
As far as other benefits, developers that have created drivers in the past for Mac using DriverKit will be able to use the same drivers on iPadOS without the need for conversion. Furthermore, by using the multiplatform apps feature in Xcode 14, developers will be able to create one app that can deliver to both the Mac and iPad. Out of the gate, DriverKit for iPadOS will offer support for USB, audio, and PCI devices – that means support for Thunderbolt devices.
If this sounds enticing, you can experiment with the developer build of iPadOS 16. But, this probably isn’t recommended for a device that is used daily. A more stable build of the OS will arrive next month in the public beta. Apple will officially release iPadOS 16, delivering other enhancements like a new multitasking experience and support for external displays in the fall of 2022.