The Stage Manager controversy doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, despite Apple’s attempts to explain its reasoning for limiting the feature to M1 iPads.
I’ve expressed my own disappointment that my 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro doesn’t get the feature, but it’s an even bigger blow to those who bought a 2020 model, only to find it’s excluded from the iPadOS 16 core feature just two years later…
The steward’s controversy
When Apple announced Stage Manager, it said the feature was “enabled by the power of the M1 chip.” It’s the type of marketing statement the company often makes, so many of us didn’t read much about it at the time.
In the press release that followed, all Apple had to say about it was:
Available on iPad Pro and iPad Air with the M1 chip
No explanation was offered at the time, leaving iPad owners to speculate.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, then offered this explanation:
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.
Some owners remained skeptical that their iPad A12X Bionic or A12Z Bionic couldn’t keep up with Stage Manager, especially since the A12Z chip was powerful enough to run macOS on Apple’s Mac mini Developer Transition Kit. .
However, others have argued that RAM might be the explanation here. The DTK had 16GB of RAM versus 4GB (2018) or 6GB (2020) for the iPad Pro.
Developer Guilherme Rambo says other factors could also be at play.
There is, however, a difference between a development kit and a consumer product. Especially considering the DTK was packaged like a Mac mini, which didn’t have a battery it could drain, and destroying flash storage with swap wasn’t an issue due to its lifespan. already limited.
But it’s not a binary problem
This all seems believable to me. That it is simply not possible to run the Stage Manager function on the iPad Pro A12X/A12Z models with the level of capacity and performance the company wants to offer. That the company’s motives are good and not based on the desire to sell more iPads.
It’s not a binary problem. It is not the case that Stage Manager won’t run on 2018-2020 iPad Pro models – is that, in Federighi’s words, non-M1 models cannot offer “the full Stage Manager experience”. That would involve some degree of compromise.
That trade-off could simply be that older iPads can’t deliver the liveliness and smooth animations of the M1 models. They might not have enough RAM to keep up with eight apps. They may not have enough external display bandwidth without Thunderbolt to provide a smooth experience on connected monitors.
I bet most 2018-2020 iPad Pro owners would rather have a limited Stage Manager experience than none at all. We would accept four applications instead of eight. We would accept a simpler animation. We’d settle for a slightly slower Switch (and let’s face it, every performance boost offered by each new app generation is barely noticeable in anything other than gaming, so the speed difference would indeed be slight).
So I think Apple should have just warned owners of iPad Pro A12X/A12Z models that they would be getting a limited version of the feature, which would not match the capabilities and speed of the M1 versions. No one would have a problem with that, and there would be no controversy over stage managers.
This undermines confidence in the longevity of Apple devices
One of the benefits of buying Apple devices has always been their longevity. We were able to buy an iPhone, iPad or Mac, knowing that it will be supported by software updates for over 5 years and will remain perfectly usable for much longer than that.
Leaving those of us who are prone to gadget lust aside, most typical Apple customers will keep a Mac for 5-7 years, some for 10 years – and that’s a completely realistic thing to do. iPads can date a little faster, but again it’s perfectly possible to keep one for five years or more.
Of course, Intel’s switch to Apple Silicon chips in the Mac was a game-changer. The difference in performance and battery life was so great that it was completely understandable that it represented a turning point between the old and the new generation. It may suck to be someone who bought the latest Intel-based Mac, but this change was inevitable.
But the same kind of watershed doesn’t exist with the iPad. iPad already ran on Apple-designed chips, and the difference between A12X, A12Z, and M1 is evolutionary, not revolutionary.
So I think it’s completely understandable that 2018 iPad owners like me are a little miffed, and that 2020 model owners might very reasonably be extremely annoyed that their high-end two-year-old models are being denied the key feature of iPadOS.
There is still time to put an end to the Stage Manager controversy
It doesn’t have to be a done deal. Apple is a stubborn company that doesn’t change its decisions often, but it does sometimes happen when there’s enough fuss or enough pressure is applied.
I honestly think that would be Apple’s best bet right now. Make a limited version of Stage Manager available to iPad Pro A12X/A12Z models, with whatever constraints and expectation management it deems appropriate.
At the very least, include it in betas so people can see for themselves how it works.
It’s my point of view; and yours? Please take our survey and share your thoughts in the comments.
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