Stage Manager was announced earlier this year as a new iPad and Mac feature, but it’s a bigger deal for iPads. It will bring overlapping application windows to the iPad for the first time, but now Apple is rethinking the feature.
Stage Manager was supposed to debut on iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura, but the Mac update isn’t out yet, and iPadOS 16 was publicly delayed. Apple didn’t say the exact reason for the delay, but Stage Manager in the initial beta builds was a rough experience, to say the least. The iPad version allows for more desktop-like multi-tasking, but the existing split-screen system was confusingly left in place, and not all apps were compatible with resizing.
New beta builds of iPadOS 16.1 (it’s skipping 16.0) and iOS 16.1 were released today, and there are significant changes to Stage Manager. According to MacRumors, it’s now available on the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pro models with A12Z and A12X chips. Before now, Stage Manager only worked on iPads with M1 chipsets — Apple said in June that the feature relied on the M1’s enhanced swap memory.
Stage Manager also no longer works on external displays, which was one of the main selling points to start with. Apple showed off the feature with an external monitor (pictured above) earlier this year during WWDC, which turned the iPad into a more Mac-like (or Samsung DeX-like) desktop experience. Apple plans to bring the feature back in a future update to iPadOS 16, but external monitor support will still require an iPad with an M1 chip.
Apple told Engadget in a statement, “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.”