Stage Manager, one of the most fundamental changes to the iPad platform since the launch of Apple’s tablet more than a decade ago, is now set to make its way to more iPad Pros than just those running Apple’s latest custom M1 silicon.
Apple announced expanded access to Stage Manager in a brief statement, which obtained from an Apple representative, on Tuesday. The company also noted that external display support via M1 iPads “will be available later this year.”
It’s been nearly five months since Apple released Stage Manager at WWDC 2022 as part of iPadOS 16. Unlike the other platforms released that day, including iOS 16 and watchOS 9, iPadOS 16 remains in beta, possibly awaiting 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 series of adjustable, if not fully customizable settings. It takes the 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 upgrade, but good enough that some are frustrated that Stage Manager is limited to iPads running Apple Silicon M1 chips.
This changes with the latest iPadOS 16.1 beta (beta 3). When we asked Apple about the update, they sent us this statement:
“We introduced Stage Manager as a whole new way to multitask with overlapping and resizable windows on both the iPad screen and a separate external screen, with the ability to run up to eight apps live on the screen at the same time. Multi-display support is only possible with the full power of M1-based iPads. Customers with iPad Pro 3rd and 4th generation have expressed great interest in being able to try Stage Manager on their iPads. In response, our teams worked hard to find a way to deliver a single-screen version for these systems, supporting up to four live apps on the iPad screen at once.”
Prior to that, Stage Manager only worked on iPad Air (2022), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021), and iPad Pro 11-inch (2021). It should now work on 2020 iPad Pros, which are running an M1 chip, and more interestingly, on 2018 iPad Pros running an A12Z Bionic CPU.
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 these older iPad Pros and you’re running the latest iPadOS 16 beta, you can see Stage Manager in action. Keep in mind that you will need to sign up for Apple Developer Access to download the build to your device. Also, betas can be unstable and you wouldn’t want to put iPadOS 16.1 Beta 3 on any system you trust to do real work.
Apple’s comment about supporting external displays implies that there may be a delay until later this year for the ability to connect another display to your iPad M1 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 will come out of the wings to become a full-fledged public operating system like its platform brothers and sisters, nobody knows. Keep watching for the latest updates.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for the best Apple iPad to run iOS 16, start here.