Written by Nick Heer.

Stage Manager in iPadOS 16

When I said I read Federico Viticci’s iPadOS review every year, I meant it — except this year, because there is no iPadOS review, because Stage Manager deserves a big long post all for itself, apparently:

At the end of all this, here’s how I feel about Stage Manager: Apple started from a good idea – make the iPad more useful by using more apps at once – and botched the execution in iPadOS 16.1 with an over-designed, poorly tested, muddled constellation of missing features, bugs, and confusing interactions.

The first version of Stage Manager fails to make iPad multitasking more intuitive for newcomers and more flexible for power users. Today, I struggle to understand what kind of market Stage Manager is supposed to serve.

Despite Viticci’s typically clear and thoughtful explanation, this was hard to read. Stage Manager may be shipping as an optional off-by-default windowing mode, but it is clearly unfinished and so inconsistent as to make you wonder if there is anyone with a specific vision for how iPad multitasking should work.

Nearly thirteen years after the iPad’s introduction, I think that is what it is most missing. It still feels like multitasking is a tacked-on bonus feature for a committed enough user. Every iPad has a great processor with fantastic graphics, but to get the full multitasking experience, you must buy a mid-level model. “Multitasking” is not really some radical concept used only by power users; everyone moves between different apps and tasks all the time. This far into the product line’s existence, I wish multitasking strength and simplicity was a base level requirement. Instead, there are a bunch of ways to use a couple of apps at once, but they are all complicated, inconsistent, and incompatible with each other. Frustrating, for sure.