FAQ | Is Apple’s New ‘Stage Manager’ Feature Coming to Older iPads After All?

Will Apple leave these older iPads out in the cold? We dig deeper into this controversy to find out.
Stage Manager iPadOS 16 9 Credit: Apple
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We’ve been waiting for a robust multitasking interface suitable for the iPad, and Apple finally delivered it in iOS 16. The company added Stage Manager, a multi-window work environment that blows away the existing slide-over interface.

Everyone loved Stage Manager until they discovered it only worked on the latest iPad models

Now Apple is under the gun for alienating many of its legacy iPad owners.

Will Apple leave these older iPads out in the cold? We dig deeper into this controversy to find out.

What Is Stage Manager?

Introduced in iOS 16, Stage Manager is a multitasking user interface that brings a Mac-like experience to the iPad. Once enabled, Stage Manager takes over the screen, displaying open applications in four separate tabs on the left side of the screen. Each of these tabs can have multiple windows that let you organize your workspace into groups.

You can tap on these tabs to quickly switch between these open applications. You can resize each tabbed window and move it around the screen. On the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the screen is so roomy that you can arrange and use several floating windows at the same time.

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And that’s not the best of it. Stage Manager also works with external monitors, which is fully supported now in iOS 16. Connecting to an external monitor and extending your screen is seamless in iOS 16. You can open these tabs on your iPad screen and also drag some over to the external monitor.

Stage Manager allows you to run four apps simultaneously on the iPad and up to four apps on the external display.

Which Devices Are Supported?

Unfortunately, Apple limits Stage Manager to M1-equipped iPad models only. This restriction excludes all iPads except for the latest iPad Pro and iPad Air models.

Apple claims this feature needs the power of the M1 architecture and will not work on older iPad models.

Apple chief software engineer Craig Federigh said Stage Manager “requires large internal memory, incredibly fast storage, and flexible external display I/O, all of which are delivered by iPads with the M1 chip.”

Stage Manager will apparently not be enabled on older iPads, a decision causing quite a stir among tablet fans.

What About Older Devices?

Apple said it tested the feature on non-M1 iPads and found that the hardware could not deliver the company’s desired performance. As a result, the software team focused on optimizing Stage Manager for the M1 chipset. Though the situation looks bleak, this may not be the story’s end.

9to5Mac recently discovered a snippet of State Manager code in iOS 16 beta 1 for legacy devices. The code references Chamois, a codename for the Stage Manager feature. It also mentions “Legacy” devices. This code snippet may enable an internal mode for older iPads to run Stage Manager. Its presence hints that Apple may still be tweaking Stage Manager to evaluate its performance on older iPad hardware.

Though the presence of this code is highly suggestive, it is not guaranteed Apple will enable Stage Manager on its legacy devices. We may have to face the unfortunate reality that these older devices may not have the horsepower to run multiple windows simultaneously. Yes, you may be able to run the software feature, but it may be too sluggish to get the official nod from Apple. One thing is for sure – everyone will be looking closely at iOS 16 beta 2 to see if this code snippet is still present.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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