The Real System Requirements for Apple’s 2022 Operating Systems
Apple has released new versions of its operating systems to developers, with public betas slated for July 2022 and releases likely in September or October of this year. Unfortunately, some of your older devices won’t get the chance to experience these upgrades. Apple is cutting out a lot of older models this year, and many of the sparkly new features require the latest and most powerful devices.
Let’s first look at the basic requirements for each operating system and then dive into which models support which features.
macOS 13 Ventura Requirements
Here are the Macs that can run macOS 13 Ventura compared to the models that support macOS 12 Monterey. As you can see, Apple has dropped every Mac released before 2017.
|Mac||Supported in Ventura||Supported in Monterey|
|iMac||2017 and later||Late 2015 and later|
|iMac Pro||2017 and later||2017 and later|
|MacBook Air||2018 and later||Early 2015 and later|
|MacBook Pro||2017 and later||Early 2015 and later|
|Mac Pro||2019 and later||2013 Mac Pro and later|
|Mac mini||2018 and later||Late 2014 and later|
|MacBook||2017 and later||Early 2016 and later|
iOS 16 Requirements
The situation is fairly similar for the iPhone models that will be able to run iOS 16. It supports every model released since 2017, other than 2019’s seventh-generation iPod touch, which Apple recently dropped (see “Apple Officially Discontinues the iPod touch,” 11 May 2022). We include the chip powering each iPhone because some features also require specific chip generations.
|iPhone 13/mini/Pro/Pro Max||2021||A15 Bionic|
|iPhone 12/mini/Pro/Pro Max||2020||A14 Bionic|
|iPhone 11/mini/Pro/Pro Max||2019||A13 Bionic|
|iPhone SE (2nd generation or later)||2020||A13 Bionic|
|iPhone XR/XS/XS Max||2018||A12 Bionic|
|iPhone X||2017||A11 Bionic|
|iPhone 8/8 Plus||2017||A11 Bionic|
The models that support iOS 15 but aren’t compatible with iOS 16 include:
- iPod touch (all models)
- iPhone SE (1st generation)
- iPhone 6s/6s Plus
- iPhone 7/7 Plus
iPadOS 16 Requirements
For the iPad, system requirements become significantly more complex, although Apple has kicked only two models off the back of the train. The table below lists the iPads that can run iPadOS 16. Note that we’ve broken out the different iPad Pro sizes so we can more clearly show which chips are in play, but at a base level, all iPad Pro models support iOS 16.
|iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st–5th generation)||2015, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021||A9X, A10X Fusion, A12X Bionic, A12Z Bionic, M1|
|iPad Pro 11-inch (1st–3rd generation)||2018, 2020, 2021||A12X Bionic, A12Z Bionic, M1|
|iPad Pro 10.5-inch||2017||A10X Fusion|
|iPad Pro 9.7-inch||2016||A9X|
|iPad Air (3rd–5th generation)||2019, 2020, 2022||A12 Bionic, A14 Bionic, M1|
|iPad (5th–8th generation)||2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021||A9, A10 Fusion, A10 Fusion, A12 Bionic, A13 Bionic|
|iPad mini (5th & 6th generation)||2019, 2021||A12 Bionic, A15 Bionic|
The iPad models that could run iOS 15 but don’t support iOS 16 are:
- iPad mini (4th generation)
- iPad Air (2nd generation)
watchOS 9 Requirements
Of the Apple Watch models that could run watchOS 8, Apple dropped only the Apple Watch Series 3 from the list of what watchOS 9 supports. That’s a little off-putting since Apple continues to sell the Series 3 to this day, meaning that you could buy an Apple Watch in the next few months and not be able to update it to watchOS 9 a few weeks later.
- Apple Watch Series 7
- Apple Watch Series 6
- Apple Watch SE
- Apple Watch Series 5
- Apple Watch Series 4
Two watchOS 9 features require specific Apple Watch models:
- Apple Watch Mirroring, an accessibility feature that lets you control an Apple Watch from an iPhone, requires an Apple Watch Series 6 or later.
- The onscreen keyboard, which is currently exclusive to the Apple Watch Series 7, supports more languages—French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish in watchOS 9.
Mac, iPhone, and iPad Compatibility By Feature
The Live Captions feature, which automatically generates text transcripts for any audio (see “Apple Previews Upcoming Accessibility Features,” 17 May 2022), requires:
- iPhone 11 or later
- iPad with A12 Bionic or later
- Mac with Apple silicon
Detection Mode in the Magnifier app, which can identify objects like doors, requires:
- iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th and 5th generation) or iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd and 3rd generation)
Camera and Photos
Machine learning will let you lift the subject of a photo from its background in Photos, Quick Look, Screenshot, Safari, and other apps. That will require an iPhone or an iPad with at least an A12 Bionic processor. It’s supported on all Ventura-compatible Macs.
You’ll be able to use Live Text with videos, and there is a new Live Text quick actions feature. It’ll require at least an A12 Bionic on an iPhone or iPad and works with all Ventura-compatible Macs.
The Camera app in iOS 16 will let you blur the foreground in Portrait photos and improves the quality of Cinematic mode videos for the iPhone 13 lineup.
The capability to use an iPhone as a webcam requires an iPhone XR or later.
To use Center Stage or Desk View—which lets you show the other party your messy desk—requires an iPhone 11 or later.
Another new feature, Studio Light, dims the background and lights up your face to simulate external lighting, but it works only if you have an iPhone 12 or later.
The iPhone’s Health app has new medication-tracking capabilities that work with watchOS 9’s Medications app. One of its features is the capability to scan medicine labels, which requires an iPhone XR or later.
When Apple ships the new Home app later this year, you will no longer be able to use an iPad as a Home hub to connect to your HomeKit accessories while away from home. Only an Apple TV or HomePod will be able to act as a hub. While this move may disappoint a few HomeKit fans, it’s for the best. Restricting hubs to plugged-in devices that don’t travel makes sense.
Spotlight search in iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 can search for images in more apps, including Files, Messages, and Notes. It lets you search for images by location, people, scenes, text, and contents. The feature requires an iPhone or iPad with an A12 Bionic or later.
The new dictation experience, which lets you use dictation alongside the onscreen keyboard, requires an A12 Bionic processor or later on an iPhone or iPad.
Dictation can add automatic punctuation if you’re using an iPhone 11 or later, an iPad with an A12 Bionic or later, or a Mac with Apple silicon.
You’ll also be able to use dictation to insert emojis, which will require an iPhone or iPad with at least an A12 Bionic or a Mac with Apple silicon.
iPad Display Scaling
iPadOS 16 lets you shrink user interface elements to be smaller (increase the pixel density of the display) so you can cram more onto the screen, but it requires an iPad with an M1 processor, which includes the iPad Air (5th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation), and iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation).
iPad Virtual Memory Swap
Virtual memory swap has been a standard feature on desktop operating systems for years. It temporarily offloads some of the contents of memory to local storage to free up RAM. iPadOS 16 will support virtual memory swap, providing up to 16 GB of memory for demanding apps, but it’s available only on M1 iPads: the iPad Air (5th generation) with a minimum of 256 GB storage, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation), and the iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation).
Apple made a big deal out of Mac gaming at the WWDC keynote when it introduced the Metal 3 API for hardware-accelerated graphics. On the Mac, Metal 3 requires Apple silicon, AMD Radeon Pro Vega series, AMD Radeon Pro 5000/6000 series, Intel Iris Plus Graphics series, or Intel UHD Graphics 630. Practically speaking, as games adopt Metal 3, they’ll have to specify which Macs they support.
Video professionals will be able to use a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Liquid Retina XDR display as a color-grading display to ensure accurate colors. It can be paired with an Apple silicon Mac through Sidecar to serve as a reference monitor.
If you’ve ever wondered what actions Siri can perform in an app, you’ll be able to ask Siri, “What can I do here?” You’ll also be able to use Siri to hang up calls and insert emojis in texts. Apple also expanded offline support, so you can control HomeKit accessories, access the Intercom feature, and interact with Voicemail without an Internet connection. These features require an iPhone or iPad with an A12 Bionic, but they won’t appear in macOS 13 Ventura.
If you’re excited about the new Stage Manager windowing feature for the iPad, be aware that it will only work with M1-equipped iPads, which means the iPad Air (5th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation), and iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation). On the Mac, it’ll work with all Ventura-compatible models.
Visual Lookup Improvements
Visual Look Up adds recognition of birds, insects, and statues. It’ll work on all Ventura-compatible Macs, along with iPhones and iPads with at least an A12 Bionic processor.