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Special iPadOS 17 version for bigger screens rumor makes no sense

16-inch iPad could be in the works

In the latest chapter of the on-again off-again saga surrounding iPads larger than the existing iPad Pro, a new leaker suggests that a special version of iPadOS is being developed — but there's no reason for it to exist.

The rumor popped up overnight from relatively new source "Analyst941" on Twitter. In it, the leaker suggests that Apple needs a new and discrete version of iPadOS 17 to support larger screens, and perhaps multiple screens, in 2024.

However, given what Apple has done historically, that doesn't make any sense. When new iPads with different screen resolutions were released, like the original iPad Pro jumping to 12.9 inches versus the standard of 9.7 inches at the time, there was no need for a "special" version of iPadOS.

Instead, like in macOS as higher resolution monitors arrive, the existing iPadOS added a new resolution that was supported in the operating system, plus targeted in the virtual device simulator in Xcode. And, that's happened ever since.

The leaker goes on to suggest that the 14-inch or larger iPad Pro models that have been rumored will support multiple monitors. One way to do that would be daisy-chaining (expensive) Thunderbolt displays.

However, for non-Thunderbolt displays that would require Apple to enable multi-stream transport (MST) for multiple displays. The company has not done this yet in MacOS after years of availability since the DisplayPort 1.2 spec launched in 2010.

Neither of these features would require a "special" iPadOS 17 build. Instead, it would just have to leverage what is expected in the M3 chip for multiple monitor support

And as far as the larger iPad Pro rumor goes, that's not at all clear either. Multiple leakers and sources of data from within the supply chain have chimed in on it, with one leaker going to far as to say that there will be a 16-inch iPad Pro hitting the streets in late 2023.

The present conventional wisdom is that Apple has shelved the concept of larger iPad Pros, at least for now.

Instead, the company appears to be working on microLED and OLED displays for the entire iPad product lineup, with timescales depending on which analyst or leaker you prefer.

AppleInsider's stance

The leaker responsible for this rumor accurately predicted information about the Dynamic Island pre-release. However, as of yet, there is not a wide body of accurate work, with the leaker making most of their predictions about the next version of Apple's operating systems expected at WWDC 2023. Only time will tell regarding long-term accuracy.

Apple making a special version of iOS 17 to support larger iPads and multiple monitors is improbable. There's just no reason to do it.

Multiple screen frameworks exist within macOS now. In theory those frameworks — other than the nonexistent daisy-chaining monitors across MST in DisplayPort — are easily movable over to iPadOS given the commonalities.

Multiple monitor support on iPadOS seems inevitable, it's just a matter of when, and with what M-series processor. There's just not a reason to "branch" iPadOS 17 to do it, nor any reason to have a special version of the operating system for the larger screen.