Stage Manager, one of the most fundamental changes to the iPad platform since Apple’s tablet was launched more than a decade ago, is now set to come to more iPad Pros than those using Apple’s latest custom M1 silicon.
Apple announced the expanded access for Stage Manager in a brief statement, obtained by TechRadar from an Apple representative, on Tuesday. The company also noted that support for external displays via the M1 iPads “will be available later this year.”
It’s been nearly five months since Apple introduced Stage Manager at WWDC 2022 as part of iPadOS 16. Unlike the other platforms introduced that day, including iOS 16 and watchOS 9, iPadOS 16 remains in beta, probably waiting for new iPads that may or may not arrive next month.
Stage Manager adds the ability to manage multiple application windows (opens in new tab) – up to eight – in a range of adjustable, if not fully customizable – configurations. It takes iPad’s previous multi-window capabilities to the next level and makes it a closer cousin to macOS Ventura. It’s a powerful, if imperfect, update, but good enough that some were disappointed that Stage Manager was limited to iPads using Apple’s Silicon M1 chip.
This changes with the latest iPadOS 16.1 beta (beta 3). When we asked Apple about the update, they sent us the following statement:
“We introduced Stage Manager as a completely new way of multitasking with resizable overlapping windows on both the iPad screen and a separate external display, with the ability to run up to eight live apps on the screen simultaneously. Providing this multi-screen support is only possible with the full power of M1-based iPads. Customers with 3rd and 4th generation iPad Pros 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 offer a single-screen version for these systems, supporting up to four live apps on the iPad screen at the same time.”
Before that, Stage Manager only worked on iPad Air (2022), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021), and iPad Pro 11-inch (2021). Now, it should work on 2020 iPad Pros running M1 chips, and more interestingly, 2018 iPad Pros with A12Z Bionic CPUs.
As noted, there will be limitations. Instead of eight apps, Stage Manager on these tablets will be limited to four apps (just one more than you can run on an iPad without Stage Manager).
If you have one of those older iPad Pros and are running the latest iPadOS 16 beta, you can see Stage Manager in action. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to sign up for Apple developer access to download the build to your device. Plus, betas can be unstable, and you wouldn’t want to put iPadOS 16.1 Beta 3 on any system you rely on to get real work done.
Apple’s comment about external display support suggests there may be a delay until later this year for the ability to connect another display to your M1 iPad and run Stage Manager through it as a full-screen, full-resolution experience. This does not apply to non-M1 iPad Pros because they do not support the external display feature.
As for when iPadOS 16 emerges from behind the scenes to become a full, public operating system like its platform brothers and sisters, that’s anyone’s guess. Keep watching TechRadar for the latest updates.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for the best Apple iPad to run iOS 16, start here.