Code in iPadOS 16 indicates Apple has an internal mode to enable the upcoming Stage Manager multitasking feature on older A-series iPads.
Stage Manager aims to improve the multitasking experience on iPads by adding floating, resizable app windows and other features that make the tablets more like Macs. However, Apple’s decision to keep the feature exclusive to iPads with M1 chips has caused quite a bit of controversy.
iPadOS 16 contains hidden setting to enable Stage Manager on older iPads
9to5Mac looked around at the iPadOS 16 code and found references to an internal mode called “Chamois” for “Legacy Devices” that enables Stage Manager on non-M1 iPads.
Apple says Stage Manager needs access to Virtual Memory Swap and 8GB RAM to work properly, meaning only M1 iPads can utilize iPadOs’ marquee multitasking feature. The extra processing power helps maintain the iPad’s responsiveness when running multiple apps simultaneously and connected to an external monitor. Older iPads also lack the GPU horsepower to render animations and shadows at super-high frame rates. And they don’t have the required IO bandwidth to drive 6K displays.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, confirmed in a Forbes interview that Apple tested Stage Manager on older iPads. But Cupertino didn’t find the results acceptable.
“It became apparent early on that we couldn’t deliver the experience that that we were designing toward with them,” Federighi said. The internal mode in iPadOS 16 confirms this. The company likely dropped support for the feature due to performance issues.
Even apart from Stage Manager, iPadOS 16 brings plenty of new features to older iPads.
Stage Manager is a work in progress
Apple continues its work on Stage Manager, with several improvements planned for upcoming iPadOS 16 betas. The company is also paying attention to user feedback to see how the feature can be further improved.
Stage Manager could dramatically improve the iPad’s multitasking experience. This perhaps explains why non-M1 iPad users are angry at the feature not coming to their devices. Perhaps the backlash could lead the company to bring Stage Manager to non-M1 iPads minus the external display support.