In a major turnaround, Apple is bringing Stage Manager, one of iPadOS’s signature new features, to more iPads. Stage Manager, a new multitasking system, was previously set to be available only on iPads with M1 chips. Now, however, the feature will also be coming to third- and fourth-generation iPad Pros (which have the A12X Bionic and A12Z Bionic chips, respectively), according to a statement shared with Engadget.
Unfortunately, Apple is also delaying one aspect of Stage Manager, and it’s one that will remain exclusive to iPads with M1 chips. Support for using Stage Manager with external displays won’t be available until a software update coming later this year.
Here’s Apple’s full statement, from Engadget:
We introduced Stage Manager as a whole new way to multitask with overlapping, resizable windows on both the iPad display and a separate external display, with the ability to run up to eight live apps on screen at once. Delivering this multi-display support is only possible with the full power of M1-based iPads. Customers with iPad Pro 3rd and 4th generation have expressed strong interest in being able to experience Stage Manager on their iPads. In response, our teams have worked hard to find a way to deliver a single-screen version for these systems, with support for up to four live apps on the iPad screen at once.
External display support for Stage Manager on M1 iPads will be available in a software update later this year.
Opening up Stage Manager to more iPads is a notable about-face, as Apple has insisted that the feature requires the power of an M1 chip. Shortly after Stage Manager was introduced at WWDC in June, Apple justified its decision to limit it to M1 iPads in this statement shared with Rene Ritchie:
Stage Manager is a fully integrated experience that provides all-new windowing experience that is incredibly fast and responsive and allow users to run 8 apps simultaneously across iPad and an external display with up to 6K resolution. Delivering this experience with the immediacy users expect from iPad’s touch-first experience requires large internal memory, incredibly fast storage, and flexible external display I/O, all of which are delivered by iPads with the M1 chip.
And this isn’t the first controversy around Stage Manager; the feature has been widely criticized for months. MacStories editor-in-chief Federico Viticci, one of the biggest iPad experts out there, actually turned Stage Manager off in August, saying that “the implementation just isn’t there yet.” And The Verge’s David Pierce, in his initial preview of iPadOS 16, said that he hated Stage Manager.
The updated version of Stage Manager is available in the iPadOS 16.1 beta 3, which was released to developers on Tuesday. Apple decoupled the release of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 this year, so we don’t know exactly when iPadOS 16 (technically, iPadOS 16.1) will be released publicly beyond sometime in October, according to Apple’s website. Fingers crossed that the extra time in the oven lets Apple make Stage Manager ready for prime time.
Stage Manager will also be coming to macOS Ventura, which is also set to be available sometime in October.