Apple announced iPadOS 16 at WWDC 2022 earlier this week. One of the most significant feature updates comes in the form of Stage Manager. However, Apple says the feature won’t be available on several recent iPad models.
Stage Manager brings the iPad experience closer to a Mac by making multitasking and switching between apps easier on the M1-powered iPad Pro and iPad Air:
- Overlapping windows: Just like on a Mac, you can use windows of different sizes simultaneously, even if they overlap.
- Easy app switching: Since you can have multiple windows open simultaneously, the apps you’re working on are displayed in the center of the screen, and others are arranged on the left side, sorted by recency of use.
- Center app: You can focus on the app open in the center of the screen without using it in fullscreen mode
- Resizable windows: You can resize all the windows you have opened, so they only hog as much screen real estate as you need them to.
- Group apps: You can drag and drop open windows from the stack on the left to group app sets you want to revisit later.
Additionally, iPadOS 16 supports external displays with a focus on enhancing your productivity. So, you can hook up an external display up to 6K resolution. Stage Manager will give you the desktop-optimized user experience so you can multitask on the dual-display configuration.
The iPhone maker specifies that Stage Manager and external display support will only be available on the M1 iPad Pro and M1 iPad Air models. Previous generation iPad Air and iPad Pro models are excluded.
When asked, Apple told DigitalTrends that the implementation relies on the memory swap capability introduced in iPadOS 16. It allows you to transform a portion of your onboard storage into RAM available to the operating system.
The company claims that Stage Manager uses the memory swap feature extensively, and each app in use can demand up to 16GB of RAM. Since Stage Manager allows you to use up to eight apps at once, the feature is resource intensive and requires a lot of RAM. So, to ensure smooth performance, Apple has limited Stage Manager’s availability to the newest M1 iPad Pro and M1 iPad Air models.
“We reached out to Apple to ask why Stage Manager is limited to the M1-powered iPads, and we got a reasonable answer. According to the company, Stage Manager is limited to M1 chips mainly due to iPadOS 16’s new fast memory swap feature, which Stage Manager uses extensively. This lets apps convert storage into RAM (effectively), and each app can ask for up to 16GB of memory. Since Stage Manager enables you to have up to eight apps going at once – and because each app could ask for 16GB of memory – it demands a lot of resources. As such, the new window management feature needs M1 for smooth performance.”
Interestingly, Apple told us that Stage manager and memory swap work only on M1-powered iPads. We believe it is possible that Stage Manager is limited to M1 iPads because the A-series chip cannot implement memory swap as seamlessly as an M1 chip.
Since iPadOS 16 is still in a developer beta stage, compatibility could improve and extend to older iPads as the update inches closer to system stability.
Update: Clarification From Apple
We reached out to an Apple representative for clarification. They explained that iPadOS 16 is compatible with all iPad Pro models, iPad Air (third generation and newer), iPad (fifth generation and newer), and iPad mini (fifth generation and newer). However, virtual memory swap and Stage Manager are only available on the iPad Air and iPad Pro powered by the M1 chip.