If you're an avid iPad user, the announcement of iPadOS 16 seemed like a dream at first. Much better multitasking with Apple's new Stage Manager and full external display support were some of the most requested features from the community. Unfortunately, all those good feelings quickly disappeared for many users as they realized those requested features wouldn't work with their current iPads.
That's right, iPadOS 16 is gatekeeping Stage Manager — its most innovative and important feature — for M1 iPads only, leaving a ton of people with slightly older iPads out in the dark. Plus, that's not the only feature that many iPad users won't be able to use, making iPadOS 16 a much more complicated story. In fact, I think iPadOS 16 has the potential to ruin the best thing about Apple.
Tarnishing Apple's reputation of support
When you hear comparisons of the best iPads, iPhones, and other Apple devices to the competition, you'll often hear people praise Apple for how long they support devices. I've said this before myself because ongoing support, updates, and security patches for your device are so important and one of the best reasons that Apple's devices — especially flagship devices — are worth the investment. Heck, the current iOS 15 still supports the iPhone 6S, a phone that's six (almost seven) years old. But I'm afraid iPadOS 16 is going to change all that.
When iPadOS 16 launches, the iPad Pro (2020), a device that's only two years old, will be lacking major features that Apple has added to the software. There's no doubt in my mind that iPad Pro (2020) users will be underwhelmed when they update their iPads to iPadOS 16 and feel very much left out by Apple's choices. The iPad Pro (2020) will likely feel like it's on life support, getting just enough of an update to be alive, but it will likely feel much past its time.
Software should make old hardware better when it can
I know that the M1 chip is powerful, and Apple says said that the M1 chip is needed to make Stage Manager possible, but shouldn't software make older hardware better when it can, and not just ignore it?
If Stage Manager truly can't run on the A12Z Bionic of the iPad Pro (2020), surely Apple could have added some other update to give the iPad Pro (2020) a little more oomph when it comes to multitasking — especially since it has been such a highly requested feature from so many users. Some sort of simpler version, or a different feature altogether, would have gone a long way to keeping Apple's promise of support for its devices going strong.
It is still early
If there's one saving grace to all of this, it's that the beta for iPadOS 16 just came out, and there is plenty of time for things to change.
It's probably safe to say that Stage Manager and all its features won't come to older iPads, but that's not to say that iPadOS 16 can't still make older iPads feel alive again. There are more features to dive into and plenty more time before iPadOS 16 official launches.
I hope this doesn't start a new trend for Apple where their devices don't feel like they have long-term support via software updates because all the best features are only on the latest models.
Master your iPhone in minutes
iMore offers spot-on advice and guidance from our team of experts, with decades of Apple device experience to lean on. Learn more with iMore!
Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.
ShiftCam SnapGrip Review: The best camera grip for your iPhone, but do you even need one?
I used to teach classes at the Apple Store and here's why everyone should try a Today at Apple Photo Tour at least once
Exclusive: Apple Maps to get a big boost in the UK — Data collection to fuel improved navigation, detail, and place information with focus on Birmingham, Manchester, and London