At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June, the company threw back the curtains on macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and watchOS 9. These operating systems won’t be available until September or October of 2022, and we usually recommend waiting some time to upgrade—particularly for macOS.
Even so, it’s not too early to think about how these operating systems might impact your plans to buy new hardware in the next six months. Any Apple device you buy now—or have bought in the last few years—will be able to run the new operating systems. But some devices that can run the current macOS 12 Monterey, iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8 won’t be able to upgrade to their replacements later this year. And some older devices that can upgrade won’t support all the new features.
Here’s what you’ll need and compatibility gotchas to keep in mind.
For macOS 13 Ventura, Apple has dropped support for every Mac model released before 2017. That’s in contrast to macOS 12 Monterey, which supported previous generation Macs that came out as early as 2013. If your Mac predates 2017 and you want to run Ventura, think about when it would make sense to buy a new Mac, perhaps in early 2023.
If you’re unsure which Mac you have, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu and look in the first line under the macOS version.
With iOS 16, Apple has maintained the same basic timeframe, supporting all iPhone models released in 2017 and later but dropping everything earlier, along with all iPod touch models. That means you’ll be able to run iOS 16 on these iPhones:
We included each model’s chip family in the list above because that becomes important for particular features we’ll discuss later.
Practically speaking, these iOS 15-compatible devices won’t be able to upgrade to iOS 16:
Things get more complicated with iPadOS 16 due to there being four different iPad model types with varying capabilities. As with the iPhone models, we’ve included the chip families for reference.
While that’s a long list, a simpler way to look at it is that only two iPad models that can run iOS 15 now won’t be able to upgrade to iOS 16:
If you’re unsure which iPad model you have (this goes for the iPhone, too), look in Settings > General > About > Model Name.
The upcoming watchOS 9 has a simple upgrade story. It supports the Apple Watch Series 4 through the Apple Watch Series 7, including the unnumbered Apple Watch SE. (Look in the Watch app on your iPhone if you can’t remember which model you have.) The only current model that won’t be able to upgrade is the Apple Watch Series 3. Although that model is quite old, dropping support for it is somewhat awkward since Apple continues to sell it even today as a low-cost option. If you’re planning to buy an Apple Watch soon, avoid the Series 3.
For some new features in iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, Apple has drawn a line in the sand at the A12 Bionic chip. These features will work on an iPhone or iPad with an A12 Bionic or later, but not on older devices that can still run iOS 16 and iPadOS 16. Some will also work on the Mac. These features include:
Some additional features have idiosyncratic system requirements:
It can be disappointing when your fully functional Mac, iPhone, or iPad doesn’t support some snazzy new feature, but it’s better that Apple lets that device upgrade to the latest operating system rather than kicking it off the upgrade train just because it doesn’t have enough processor power for everything.
(Featured image by Apple)
Social Media: Later this year, Apple will release macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and watchOS 9. Here’s the hardware you’ll need to run these operating systems—and to support some of the whizzier features.