The Real System Requirements for Apple’s 2022 Operating Systems

Originally published at: The Real System Requirements for Apple’s 2022 Operating Systems - TidBITS

Apple’s upcoming operating systems have a long list of supported models, but devils dance in the details. Macs from 2015 and 2016 fall by the wayside, and older devices that are generally compatible won’t be able to take advantage of all the new features, reasonably enough. Read on to find out what you might be missing.

Small error in the article: the iPad Virtual Memory Swap feature requires an M1 but the Tidbits article lists the 4th generation iPad Air, when it is the 5th generation which has an M1.

I’ve seen this same mistake on other sites, so I assume Apple originally published the wrong information. Footnote 19 on the “All new features” page now says iPad Air 5, as expected.

So basically, with a few exceptions, Apple is no longer offering improvements for devices older than 5 years. That seems a bit disappointing for a company that brags about environmental friendliness of their products. :thinking:

I do hope they will continue to offer bug- & security updates for older OS-es for at least 3 more years. I think devices should have a useful lifespan of 10 years or more, especially if you call them environmental friendly.


Fixed, thanks!

This sort of thing is devilishly easy to mess up. For instance, on the iPadOS 16 Preview page, Apple has footnotes for 7 and 8, but I can’t find either in the text with a search, and 8 talks about needing an A13 Bionic, whereas nothing on the All New Features page lists that chip as required.

My guess is that Apple will keep with the basic policy of security fixes for the last two versions of macOS, and occasionally security fixes for versions of iOS and iPadOS on non-vintage products that can’t upgrade to the current version.

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This article has an update on the bottom that says that the footnote did once say iPad Air 4 with 256 GB of storage, as you suspected.

That should be counted up to the end of the OS release cycle, not the start of it, since new features and the full set of bug fixes continue for that year. That makes the minimum “full support” window six years from introduction for Macs, iPhones and iPads dropped by the upcoming OS versions, apart from the 2017 MacBook Air which only gets 5.3 years (it was the same core as the Early 2015 model, with changes to storage configuration and a faster CPU in some models).

The Apple Watch hasn’t reached the six year mark yet: Series 3 will get 5 years. iPod Touch never got more than 4 years, and the 7th generation is worse at about 3.3 years.

Looking at recent history, I’d say that macOS Ventura has cut the Mac support timeframe back by about one year, since most models dropped in the last few years got at least 7 years by the same measure.

This might be a one-off cull to drop support for older Intel processors: all Intel Macs supported by macOS Ventura apart from the iMac Pro have at least a 7th generation (Kaby Lake) processor, all dropped models have older generations. One reason to require Kaby Lake is that it has dedicated or improved hardware support for some variants of H.264 and HEVC. It also raises the minimum standard for graphics controllers.

The iMac Pro has a Skylake (6th generation) Xeon, but Xeons are usually a special case, plus this model has a T2 chip so video encode/decode can be handled by the T2.

Looking ahead, macOS in the next year or two could raise the minimum to “Intel Macs with a T2 chip”, which would include the Late 2017 iMac Pro and all 2018 and later Intel models apart from the 2019 iMac. That would allow dropping support for the last Macs with internal hard drives and Fusion drives, and allow macOS to depend on features which only exist in Apple Silicon or T2.

Late 2023 (macOS 14) seems too early to be dropping support for the 2019 21.5-inch 4K Retina iMac and 2017 entry level 21.5-inch iMac, since those models were discontinued in mid and late 2021 respectively. That leaves hope that macOS 14 might drop few if any models, bringing the Mac full support minimum back up to 7 years.

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I believe it’s the SharePlay gaming feature that requires the A13, but they mark it with an asterisk instead of a number. This article was incredibly tedious to write because of the way Apple lists these system requirements. On the upside, I guess it keeps us in business!

Thank you! It didn’t make sense to me when I was putting it together, but I simply regurgitated what Apple said. I figured it was possible on that model due to the higher RAM.

I’m running Monterey on a MacBook Pro early 2015. That’s not in agreement with the list.

Hmm? The table says for Monterey “Early 2015 and later.” your MacBook Pro just barely made the cutoff and won’t be supported in Ventura.

Yeah…especially as one of the supported iPhones has the same chip as one of the unsupported iPads according to something I saw. The only iPad feature that excited my bride was Stage Manager…which won’t run on the Air 4. I’m sure that Apple will put the blame on ‘unacceptable performance’…but there could easily be a switch to enable it if one wanted to see the performance hit for yourself…but planned obsolescence and push to upgrade is certainly also in their minds. They exist to make money…and the Air 4 shipped in Sep 2020…so it hardly seems all that antiquated to me…and we ar u likely to upgrade solely for Stage Manager. Seems like something in between what we have now and the full on M1 Stage Manager experience would be doable technically and not essentially abandon 2 year old hardware for a new feature.

But I’m cynical…


Yes, was looking at MacBook, not MacBook Pro

Yes this limiting Stage Manager to M1 iPads, while necessary if you believe Apple’s recent statement on RAM needed, is not good from a marketing perspective.

As they’re effectively inferring to future buyers that iPads have very limited OS updates (under two years old) before they start to omit major features. Hardly a great selling point on iPads costing $1-3K knowing that.
I’m hoping it’s a glitch year in the silicon switchover, rather than a typical one. But only time will tell.

People with older iPads are getting the software update–they’re just not getting one of the new features. As long as the current method of running multiple apps still works, they’re in no worse of a position than before. When there is an OS upgrade, the newest features may not be supported on all machines due to constraints that the older machines have compared to newer ones. If the performance of a feature such as Stage Manager on older machines is bad enough to create a heavy support load, then I see no problem in limiting its availability. I was actually surprised the Stage Manager and Continuity (web) Camera is supported on Intel Macs. [Note: Apple already has a Continuity Camera feature].

I believe that Apple’s obligation here is to assure that as updates are made, a machine can still run all the features it could run when initially introduced at least as efficiently as when introduced. The ability to run additional features, introduced with new devices and in system updates is a bonus. Most of the time, we get that bonus, but sometimes it’s a leap too far.

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I think limiting Stage Manager to the M1 iPads is in part technical, but in part aimed at differentiating the iPad Pros (and the last iPad Air) from the low-end models.

What Apple’s saying, in essence, is that if you’re serious about working on your iPad, you need an M1 iPad, in part because that’s where you’ll have Stage Manager.

They’re not getting the major feature…everything else is pretty much minor improvements. And the major feature won’t work on 2 year old iPad Ai 4’s…and plenty of people are doing real work on those to reference a different reply…so the whole “if you don’t have an iPad Pro you’re not doing real work” is kinda of a copout. Limit external displays…that might make sense for RAM or RAM speed issues…but we can already have multiple apps on an iPad and it’s pretty hard to buy the claim that the little bit of extra graphics work it takes to draw Stage Manager on the screen than side by side apps as anything but marketingspeak for “we want you to buy iPad Pro instead”.

For the Stage Manager major feature, I don’t get the M1 iPad requirement, either. External displays maybe, but not the whole SM multi-app feature itself.

But I have the 2020 large iPP, and I’m still completely locked out of the whole SM feature. So it’s not a low-end model, but barely 2-years old high-end model – hardly an old one.

Anyway, I’ll be waiting until the new iteration of machines at the very least, before even considering upgrading. And even then it’s only a consideration, as I still think iPadOS is a toy compared to macOS in overall functionality regardless of the new OS, and it leaves a bit of a bitter taste for Apple to lock-out the young machine I already have.

It’s difficult to evaluate Apple’s decisions to limit a feature to a particular set of hardware requirements. It could be sheer processing power, it could be an attempt to reduce the test matrix, it could be associated with a known (to Apple, but not the world) limitation in older hardware that would hurt the user experience, or it could be a combination of all of the above factors plus a push from marketing to have some features that would encourage new purchases. Regardless, I’m dubious that Stage Manager is going to be a game-changer.

Yes, I accept that. As Apple have done in the past, there’s always the slight possibility they may add non-M1 models to the basic SM feature (maybe without the external screen stuff) in a x.1 or x.2 release. Although I’d guess that’s a slim chance for this one.

But I agree, I’m also sceptical that SM will be a game-changer to the whole iPadOS – it’s more like a sticking plaster, rather than a whole new organ! Though the Files app changes help a little bit, other basic things like the lack of metadata editing in apps like Music, Books, et al. (already annoying on Mac since the split from iTunes) are still major omissions awaiting parity with macOS. Plus a load more.

I’m with you…the iPad is a consumption device for me…email, web, games and occasionally light editing of Notes or remote control to the house server or whatever…but for nothing serious I pick up the laptop. Mail search and retention on the iPad or iPhone still sucks for instance…only a small fraction of your actual IMAP mailbox is on it and it frequently fils to find the emails on the server when it is done searching for instance. Notes is another example…macOS has features that iPadOS and iOS don’t…why?

And I’m irritated that my 2 year old iPad Air 4 can’t use the key feature in iPadOS 16…Apple can use ll the marketing speak they want but just like 1PW the company…this is a forced/influencing upgrade thing rather than any real technical limitation IMO.

I understand why iPad Mail sucks…storage limitations mostly I guess…I just think it was an idiotic decision…even with several hundred thousand emails in my inboxes at various places we are only talking less than 10GB total.


It’s all this “automatic cloud” downloading thing on iOS (and even some macOS, but there’s more option switches on there), where they make the choices for you, rather than you having any control over anything. Why can’t they have settings switches for these on iOS, so that you can select say in Mail settings “Download all messages” and that’s what happens for all folders.

While I understand some users may want the “on demand only” status quo to save storage/bandwidth, but why enforce this for other users who want the opposite and who understand the ramifications? (hence add pop-up warning messages, eg. “Turning on may use considerable storage space.” and “You do not have enough storage space on this device.” or whatever.) :roll_eyes: