The upcoming iPadOS 16 update brings DriveKit API to device makers for the first time. Initially, Apple launched the DriverKit API for Macs in macOS Catalina, enabling device makers to build drivers for their products to work with compatible macOS versions in a reliable safe, and secure way.
In 2019, we introduced DriverKit, a replacement for IOKit device drivers. DriverKit brought a new way to extend the system that is more reliable and secure, running in userspace. And it’s easier to develop since your process isn’t in the kernel.
The new DriverKit API on iPadOS 16 supports PCI, USB, and audio devices
With the new framework, creators can build their drivers for iPad for USB, PCI, and audio devices even Thunderbolt audio interfaces for the first time. And creator can also bring their drivers created with DriverKit on the Mac to iPad without any changes.
However, M1 or Apple Silicon iPad models will support the new framework. The announcement states:
The drivers you build with DriverKit run in user space, rather than as kernel extensions, which improves system stability and security. You create your driver as an app extension and deliver it inside your existing app.
On macOS, use the System Extensions framework to install and upgrade your driver. On iPadOS, the system automatically discovers and upgrades drivers along with their host apps.
At the WWDC 2022 event, Apple announced the iPadOS 16 update which includes several new features and improvements like new Messages with support for Files, Keynote, Numbers, Pages, Notes, Reminders, and Safari, as well as third-party apps, FreeForm flexible canvas, improvements to Mail and much more.
However, certain capabilities will only be available on M1 or Apple Silicon iPads like Stage Manager, support for external display, Reference Mode, Magnifier mode that includes Door Detection, People Detection, and Image Descriptions, and Virtual Memory Swap.