What you need to know
- Apple's iPadOS 16 will add proper window-based multitasking to iPad.
- The new feature will be exclusive to M1-powered iPads.
- Most people are likely using older iPads without M1 chips.
Apple's WWDC22 event saw the announcement of a suite of new software updates including iPadOS 16, the new iPad software that will be released this fall. The standout feature announced as part of the update is called Stage Manager and it brings real window-based multitasking to iPad for the first time. For some, at least.
Just, probably not the one you have at home.
Stage Manager is an iPadOS 16 feature that's being borrowed from macOS Ventura and allows real multitasking on an iPad, complete with resizable windows that can overlap on top of one another. It's pretty cool and is a big improvement for iPad stalwarts, especially those who use an external display and like to get their work done on a tablet rather than a Mac. But this tentpole feature has a dark secret — it's only available on Apple's most modern iPads running its M1-flavored Apple silicon.
Stage Manager is an entirely new multitasking experience that automatically organizes apps and windows, making it quick and easy to switch between tasks. For the first time on iPad, users can create overlapping windows of different sizes in a single view, drag and drop windows from the side, or open apps from the Dock to create groups of apps for faster, more flexible multitasking. The window of the app users are working on is displayed prominently in the center, and other open apps and windows are arranged on the left-hand side in order of recency.
If you're using an older iPad Pro, like my 2018 model, you're out of luck. Why that is isn't immediately clear, although Apple will likely point to the processing power and GPU performance required to move pixels around the screen sufficiently speedily enough to make Stage Manager work. Whether that's accurate or Apple just wanted to keep a feature back for new iPad, we might never know. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman points out that Apple's Mac mini Apple silicon developer kits ran an iPad Pro's A12Z chip and full-blown macOS just fine. But it can't handle Stage Manager?
Admittedly, Apple is now very much an M1 iPad household right now, but I'd wager that the majority of the iPad-toting userbase is using non-M1 iPads as of writing. That'll change over the next year or two, of course, but most people don't upgrade their iPads all that often so a ton of people are going to miss out on the best iPad feature nobody can use — iPadOS 16's Stage Manager.