Stage Manager Coming to A12 iPad Pro Models, External Display Support Coming to M1 iPad Pros in a Future Software Update

Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch interviewed Craig Federighi after WWDC this year, and asked why Stage Manager was limited to M1 iPads:

“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.”

It was not purely the availability of memory that led Apple to limit Stage Manager to M1 iPads though.

“We also view Stage Manager as a total experience that involves external display connectivity. And the IO on the M1 supports connectivity that our previous iPads don’t, it can drive 4K, 5K, 6K displays, it can drive them at scaled resolutions. We can’t do that on other iPads.”

It turns out Apple was able to find some of those capabilities in older iPad Pro models after all.

Nathan Ingraham, Engadget:

That changes with the latest iPadOS 16 developer beta, which was just released. Now, Apple is making Stage Manager work with a number of older devices: it’ll work on the 11-inch iPad Pro (first generation and later) and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (third generation and later). Specifically, it’ll be available on the 2018 and 2020 models that use the A12X and A12Z chips rather than just the M1. However, there is one notable missing feature for the older iPad Pro models — Stage Manager will only work on the iPad’s build-in display. You won’t be able to extend your display to an external monitor.

Stage Manager has been decoupled from external display support, which will be coming to M1 iPads in a separate software update. In some ways, this more closely mirrors Apple’s history of soft limitations in Macs. For example, recent MacBook Air models — like old iBooks — only officially support a single external display, even though they can drive more.

Unfortunately, Stage Manager has been among the buggiest new features in this year’s round of new operating system versions and it remains troubled in the latest beta.

Update: Steve Troughton-Smith:

What’s really telling to me is that if Stage Manager were taken apart & rebuilt from scratch properly, there is not one aspect of the current version that I would preserve (other than floating windows that can be resized/overlapped). Not one bit of how any of this works is right.

This is just one perspective, but it is worrisome.