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iPadOS

Why is Stage Manager available only on iPads with M1 chip?

By Sanuj Bhatia June 14, 2022, 5:15 am
Apple demo showcasing stage manager on iPadOS 16 Source: Apple

Apple hosted its WWDC event last week. The company introduced a number of new features to the iPad with the introduction of iPadOS 16. The new iPadOS 16 software update brings improvements to messages, collaboration tools, an all-new Weather app, a customizable toolbar, and much more. But, one of the key highlights of the new iPad operating system, that Apple executive Craig Federighi also took time demoing, is the new Stage Manager feature. It, however, appears that the Stage Manager feature will not be available on most iPads as it is limited to only the models with the M1 chip. Here's the reason why Apple has left out the Stage Manager feature on iPads without an M-series chip.

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What is Stage Manager?

iPadOS 16 Source: Apple

Stage Manager is an all-new way of managing windows and full-screen apps on iPadOS. Apple says that Stage Manager is an entirely new multitasking experience that makes organizing apps, switching between tasks, and managing windows a fluid experience. Using Stage Manager, you can resize apps into overlapping windows, drag and drop windows from the side, open apps from the Dock to create groups of apps, and even use eight apps at the same time using an external monitor.

Unfortunately, it appears that Stage Manager will only be available on iPad models that are powered by the Apple M-series processors. This means that only the latest iPad Pro and the iPad Air 5th Gen will get the new Stage Manager feature. On the other hand, iPad Air 4th Gen and all the other iPads released with A-series chips will not receive the new feature. Apple has explained why only the recently released iPad models support the new Stage Manager feature.

Why is Stage Manager limited to iPads with an M1 chip?

Apple demo showcasing stage manager on iPadOS 16 Source: Apple

In a statement to Rene Ritchie earlier this week, Apple SVP of software engineering, Craig Federighi, explained that Stage Manager requires large internal memory, incredibly fast storage, and flexible external display I/O to work. All of these — the required specifications — are available only on iPads with the M1 chip, according to Apple.

Following this, in an interview with TechCrunch, Federighi reiterated that the M1 chip ensures that all apps being used in Stage Manager are "instantaneously responsive."

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. 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

— Craig Federighi

"We really designed Stage Manager to take full advantage [of the M1 chip]," said Federighi. "If you look at the way the apps tilt and shadow and how they animate in and out. To do that at super-high frame rates, across very large displays and multiple displays, requires the peak of graphics performance that no one else can deliver."

an image showing an ipad connected to an external display and the use of Stage Manager Source: Apple

"When you put all this together, we can't deliver the full Stage Manager experience on any lesser system," he added. "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 lesser, we're setting the benchmark for the future."

It seems that Apple could have brought a slightly toned-down version of Stage Manager to the iPad with A-series chips, but Federighi says that the company is setting the benchmark for future products and has decided to go the other way.

Even though Stage Manager is limited to iPads with an M1 chip, it doesn't mean they will miss out on other iPadOS 16 features. Features such as Collaboration in apps like Safari, Pages, and Keynote, the ability to schedule and undo send emails, Shared Photo Library, improvements to the Messages app, and other features will be available on all the iPadOS 16 compatible models.


Stage Manager could prove to be the multi-tasking and windowing experience we were all looking forward to, but it appears that it will only be available to only a niche set of iPad users and most of the consumers will not be able to enjoy the new feature. What are your thoughts on the iPadOS 16 update? Is your iPad compatible with the Stage Manager feature? If yes, have you used the feature on your iPad? Let us know in the comments section below!

Source: TechCrunch | Other References: MacRumors, Apple Insider

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