The Stage Manager feature of iPadOS 16 has been in the spotlight this week – not because of what it allows iPad users to do, but because of its controversial requirements. 9to5Mac covered how users are upset about Apple’s decision to keep it restricted to M1 iPads, while the company’s explanations don’t seem all that believable. But if you could change that, would you be fine with having a limited version of Stage Manager on non-M1 iPads?
What is Stage Manager?
First of all, Stage Manager is a feature introduced with the recently announced iPadOS 16 that brings real multitasking to the iPad. Unlike Split View, which just lets you run two apps at the same time side by side, Stage Manager basically enables windowed apps on the iPad for the first time.
The interface is not exactly what you have in a desktop operating system like Windows or macOS (although the latest version of macOS also features Stage Manager), but it lets you run up to eight apps in floating windows that can be reorganized and resized.
But the improvements coming with Stage Manager extend beyond multitasking, as the feature also enables real support for an external display on the iPad. Instead of mirroring the iPad screen with black bars on each side, Stage Manager fills the monitor with the system wallpaper and lets users move the floating windows to the external display.
It’s certainly the biggest upgrade in terms of multitasking for the iPad – something that users have been asking for for a long time. However, not many iPad users will have access to the new Stage Manager feature.
Stage Manager requirements
Apple has announced Stage Manager as an exclusive feature for iPads equipped with the M1 chip. This means that, for now, only the 2021 iPad Pro and iPad Air 5 (released earlier this year) will get Stage Manager with iPadOS 16.
Some users, especially those who bought the 2020 iPad Pro with the A12Z chip, have been upset since they believe they have an iPad that is more than capable of running more than two apps at the same time. After several complaints on the internet, Apple shared details of why exactly Stage Manager requires the M1 chip, but that’s where things got even more confusing.
First, an Apple spokesperson told Rene Ritchie that Stage Manager was created as a “fully integrated experience.” So in order to support up to eight apps running simultaneously plus an external 6K resolution display, the company concluded that only the M1 chip is capable of delivering the best performance for Stage Manager.
Then, Apple’s head of software engineering Craig Federighi told TechCrunch that the virtual memory swap and the Thunderbolt port on M1 iPads were crucial in creating Stage Manager. However, some iPad users found these statements hard to believe.
As pointed out by multiple users and developers, the base iPad Air 5 model with 64GB of storage lacks virtual memory swap – one of the Stage Manager requirements. iPad Air 5 also has no Thunderbolt port, and yet it gets external display support with iPadOS 16.
Federighi also pointed out that the Stage Manager requirements had to be super high since the feature has smooth animations and shadows, but this also seems controversial since the feature is available for Intel Macs with macOS Ventura. Isn’t a 2020 or even 2018 iPad Pro, which Apple claims has a more powerful GPU than an Xbox, capable of running some apps in floating windows?
Stage Manager for non-M1 iPads
Craig Federighi also said in an interview that Apple tested Stage Manager on non-M1 iPads, but the company wasn’t satisfied with the results. This was later confirmed by 9to5Mac after we found an internal setting that enables Stage Manager for “legacy” iPads running iPadOS 16.
At this point, Apple hasn’t said a word about reconsidering the Stage Manager requirements. Personally, I believe that other iPad models are more than capable of running at least three to four apps simultaneously, since you can already do this with non-M1 iPads using Split View and Slide Over. That’s where our poll comes in.
If Apple is willing to change the Stage Manager requirements, would you want a limited version of this feature on more iPad models? Let us know your thoughts below in the poll and in the comments section.
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