The best iPadOS 16 feature is coming to non-M1 iPads

Stage Manager, one of the most fundamental changes to the iPad platform since Apple's tablet launched more than a decade ago, is now set to come to more iPad Pros than just those running Apple's latest custom M1 silicon.

Apple announced the expanded access for Stage Manager in a brief statement, which TechRadar obtained from an Apple representative, on Tuesday. The company also noted that external display support through M1 iPads "will be available later this year."

It's been almost five months since Apple unveiled Stage Manager at WWDC 2022 as part of iPadOS 16. Unlike the other platforms unveiled that day, including iOS 16 and watchOS 9, iPadOS 16 remains in beta, possibly waiting for new iPads that may or may not arrive next month.

Stage Manager adds the ability to manage multiple app windows (opens in new tab) - up to eight - in a series of adjustable, if not wholly customizable - configurations. It takes the iPad's earlier multi-window capabilities to the next level and makes it a closer cousin to macOS Ventura. It's a powerful, if imperfect, update, but good enough that some were frustrated that Stage Manager was limited to iPads running Apple Silicon M1 chips.

That 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, resizable windows on both the iPad display and a separate external display, with the ability to run up to eight live apps on screen at once. Delivering this multi-display support is only possible with the full power of M1-based iPads. Customers with iPad Pro 3rd and 4th generation have expressed strong interest in being able to experience Stage Manager on their iPads. In response, our teams have worked hard to find a way to deliver a single-screen version for these systems, with support for up to four live apps on the iPad screen at once."

Prior to this, Stage Manager only worked on iPad Air (2022), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021), and iPad Pro 11-inch (2021). Now, it should work on 2020 iPad Pros, which are running an M1 chip, and more interestingly, 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 are running the latest iPadOS 16 beta, you can see Stage Manager in action. Just keep in mind that you'll need to sign up for Apple Developer access to download the build to your device. Plus, betas can be unstable and you wouldn't want to put iPadOS 16.1 Beta 3 on any system you rely on to get real work done.

Apple's comment about external display support implies that there may be a delay until later this year for the ability to connect another display to your M1 iPad and run the Stage Manager through it as a full-screen, full-resolution experience. This doesn't apply to non-M1 iPad Pros because they do not support the external display feature.

As for when iPadOS 16 steps out from backstage to become a full-blown, public OS like its platform brothers and sisters, that's anyone's guess. Keep watching TechRadar for the latest updates.

In the meantime, if you're looking for the best Apple iPad to run iOS 16, start here.

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