Apple has brought out a video on how to use Stage Manager, its latest attempt at multitasking on an iPad. But it raises more questions than it answers in its two-minute runtime.
Multitasking on iPad has been a long-running saga for the tablet, ever since it launched in 2010. But even with Stage Manager debuting with iPadOS 16 last year, it's somehow made multitasking worse, and this video from Apple (embedded below) doesn't help matters.
The video has confused users who know how to use split-view, which is where you can run two iPad apps side by side while alienating those who use an iPad to consume content and have come across Stage Manager by mistake.
Over the last year, Apple has brought out some bug fixes for Stage Manager, but it's a plaster to an arm that's still losing a lot of blood. I use a 12.9-inch iPad Pro sparingly, but I never use Stage Manager due to its bizarre limitations.
This recent video, where Apple's in-house experts showcase how to use it, does nothing to change my mind. But it does, at least, give the impression that the feature is a solid, bug-free experience.
iPadOS 17 needs to fix Stage Manager
Watching the above video showcase switching between three windows, alongside using the sidebar to choose other apps, was odd to me. It again gave me the impression that Stage Manager brings no added benefit to the user, especially if you're using it on a smaller display than a 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
In my experience, dragging some apps to the side, or selecting others to bring them to the front, results in crashes, and I've even experienced times when two apps displayed suddenly snap into split-view without my input.
One of its most fatal errors to me is that apps have an invisible grid — you can't really place apps anywhere you choose on the display, and that is a big source of my frustration with it. So I leave it off and stick with split-view.
If you asked iPad users how they switch between apps and use a couple at the same time, there's a good chance that a majority of the answers would be of surprise that you can run two apps simultaneously at all. For example, my parents have an iPad Air, and when I showed them Stage Manager, they suddenly looked anxious — as if I transformed the tablet into something completely unfamiliar, and somewhat intimidating, for them to use.
That is un-Apple-like, and that alone only shows to me that it's a feature that needs a big redesign if it's to be a big part of iPad multitasking in the future.
I hope that once iPadOS 17 is announced at WWDC 2023, we see some big improvements to the feature, and it gives a much better impression to iPad users than what Stage Manager did when it first arrived in 2022.
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Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.
Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.