Apple has long maintained that window management for its tablets absolutely requires M1 SoCs. With iPadOS 16.1 beta it is also possible with older iPad Pros.
Surprise on Wednesday night: Apple will now not only release its long-awaited window management for the iPad, called Stage Manager, for M1 iPads. For the first time, the current beta of iPadOS 16.1 not only supports the iPad Pro 11 and 12.9 and the iPad Air 5 with M1 SoC, but also older iPad Pro models from 2018 and 2020 that run with A12X and A12Z respectively. This significantly expands the user group.
Actually it was clear
It was already known that Stage Manager could also be used on older or smaller iPad models, but Apple refused to allow it. In addition, the smallest iPad Air 5, which supports Stage Manager, lacked a function that Apple’s software boss Craig Federighi had described as mandatory. Accordingly, there was a lot of criticism that Apple saw window management as a marketing opportunity to get people to buy an iPad with M1.
But now the turning point: iPadOS 16, which will be released in October, will get Stage Manager for older devices. So if you bought your iPad Pro in 2018, you can now “window it”. In a statement, Apple said it had heard that third- and fourth-generation iPad Pro owners “a strong interest in the Stage Manager experience on their iPads” have had. That’s why the team “worked hard to deliver a single-screen version for these systems.” That means: Stage Manager lacks the so-called multi-display support on non-M1 iPads – so you can’t connect an external display and then freely use it in window mode. Another limitation: Stage Manager on the older iPads only comes with support for four currently running apps on the iPad screen at the same time.
An update should fix it
In fact, the third iPadOS 16.1 beta initially lacks support for external screens entirely – even on M1 models. Apple will deliver the function later, it said. (You could open up to eight apps on M1 iPads with an external screen.) It’s still unclear how Apple plans to launch iPadOS 16. It is conceivable that the rollout will initially begin with iPadOS 16.0 and then iPadOS 16.1 will be submitted a few weeks later – although the beta is already relatively advanced.
Initial tests of the Stage Manager functionality on older iPad Pro models show adequate performance. Many users had wished to be able to use the iPad in window mode instead of in full screen mode; partially this is implemented now, after there were previously other multitasking features. However, Stage Manager is not comparable to free window management such as on a Mac. Also useful: With Stage Manager, the use of iPhone apps on the iPad is visibly more pleasant.