iPadOS 16 brings one of the biggest upgrades to multitasking on iPad thanks to the new Stage Manager feature. So far, Stage Manager on iPad has been met with mixed opinions and criticism regarding Apple’s decision to limit it to the latest iPad Air and iPad Pro M1 only.
In a new interview with Tech Crunch, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, explained the future of Stage Manager, the decision to limit itself to M1 iPads, and more.
Craig Federighi on the director:
Regarding criticism of Stage Manager support only on the iPad Air and iPad Pro M1, Federighi explained that one of the biggest challenges was ensuring that the feature met expectations. Apple when it comes to “interactive responsiveness”. Essentially, it’s Apple’s expectation that “every app you can touch should be able to respond essentially instantly.”
According to Federighi, the M1 iPads were the only models capable of meeting these expectations thanks to their increased amount of RAM, faster storage and support for virtual memory swapping. He explained:
“Only the iPad M1s have combined the high DRAM capacity with super high capacity, high performance NAND which allows our virtual memory swap to be super fast,” says Federighi. “Now that we allow you to have up to four apps on one panel plus four more – up to eight apps to be instantly responsive and have lots of memory, we just don’t have that capability on other systems. “
Federighi also noted that only M1 iPads can support the full range of external display features due to the Thunderbolt port. Graphics performance also played a role in this decision, he added.
“When you put it all together, we can’t deliver the full Stage Manager experience on a lesser quality system,” says Federighi. “I mean, we’d like to make it available wherever we can. But that’s what it takes. This is the experiment that we will carry out in the future. We didn’t want to limit our design to anything less, we’re setting the benchmark for the future.
Regarding the future of Stage Manager, Federighi said that Apple is closely monitoring feedback and response to the release of the feature included in iPadOS 16 beta 1. As you’d expect, Federighi promised that Apple would 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 had already planned a number of them in terms of the director on both Mac and iPad,” says Federighi. “And some of the feedback we got is things where we’re like ‘yeah, I mean it’s coming in seed two or seed three! We have already identified these elements, either that, or bugs, or simply incomplete elements or changes in behavior.
“There’s nothing we’ve seen that makes us think, whoa, this is unexpected news. A lot of it is either the reaction we expect from people who haven’t somehow adjusted to the system , or in areas where we have improvements underway, so yes, we will definitely continue to do so.
The full interview on TechCrunch is worth a read and includes some additional information on Stage Manager’s development process, why Apple brought it to iPad and Mac simultaneously, and more.
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