iPadOS 16 betas to bring more Stage Manager improvements

iPadOS 16 brings one of the biggest upgrades to iPad multitasking ever thanks to the new Stage Manager feature. So far, Stage Manager on iPad has been met with mixed opinions and criticism for Apple’s decision to limit it only to the newest M1 iPad Air and iPad Pro.

In a new interview with TechCrunch, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, elaborated on the future of Stage Manager, the decision to limit to the M1 iPads, and more.

Craig Federighi on Stage Manager:

In regards to criticism about Stage Manager being supported only on the M1 iPad Air and iPad Pro, Federighi explained that one of the biggest challenges was making sure the feature met Apple’s expectations for “interactive responsiveness.” Essentially, this is Apple’s expectation that “every app you can touch needs to be able to respond essentially instantaneously.”

According to Federighi, the M1 iPads were the only models that could live up to these expectations thanks to the their increased amount of RAM, faster storage, and support for virtual memory swap.” He explained:

“It’s only the M1 iPads that combined the high DRAM capacity with very high capacity, high performance NAND that allows our virtual memory swap to be super fast,” Federighi says. “Now that we’re letting you have up to four apps on a panel plus another four — up to eight apps to be instantaneously responsive and have plenty of memory, we just don’t have that ability on the other systems.”

Federighi also noted that only the M1 iPads can support the full breadth of external display features because of the Thunderbolt port. Graphics performance also played a role in this decision, he added.

“When you put all this together, we can’t deliver the full Stage Manager experience on any lesser system,” Federighi says. “I mean, we would love to make it available everywhere we can. But this is what it requires. This is the experience we’re going to carry into the future. We didn’t want to constrain our design to something less, we’re setting the benchmark for the future.”

Looking ahead to the future of Stage Manager, Federighi said that Apple is closely watching the feedback and response to the version of the feature included in iPadOS 16 beta 1. As you would expect, Federighi promised that Apple will continue to work on the feature and make improvements over the summer.

Federighi noted that Apple already has a number of new features and changes planned:

“We already had a number of them planned as it relates to stage manager both on Mac and iPad,” says Federighi. “And some of the feedback we’ve received are things where we’re like ‘yeah I mean that that’s coming in seed two or seed three!’ We already have those things identified, either that or bugs or just incomplete elements or tweaks to behavior.

“There hasn’t been anything we’ve seen, that has us thinking like, whoa, that is that is unexpected news. Many of them are either the reaction we expect from people who haven’t sort of adapted to the system or in areas where we have refinements in flight. So yeah, we’re certainly going to continue to do that.”

The full interview at TechCrunch is worth a read and includes some additional tidbits about the development process of Stage Manager, why Apple brought it to iPad and Mac simultaneously, and more.

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