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Apple backtracks and brings a limited form of Stage Manager to A12X and A12Z iPad Pros | All other iPads don't have enough RAM

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Summary

In response to developer frustrations about Stage Manager requiring an iPad with the M1 chip, Apple has decided to backtrack and has started testing Stage Manager running on the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pros running the A12X and A12Z chips.

 

Apple has stated though that the external display version of Stage Manager will remain exclusive to the M1 powered iPads allegedly because the A12X/A12Z iPad Pros are lacking in RAM and overall performance compared to the M1 iPads. This means that the M1 powered iPads can display 4 apps in Stage Manager on the internal display and 4 apps in Stage Manager on external displays vs only the 4 apps on the internal display for the A12X and A12Z iPad Pros.

 

If you were expecting Stage Manager on A13/A14/A15 iPads then you are out of luck.

 

Apple's Craig Federighi said the justification for locking down Stage Manager is that non M1 (and now A12X/A12Z) iPads don't have enough RAM and that their storage isn't fast enough to support Stage Manager. This is because Stage Manager requires the ability to swap between the RAM and the storage of the iPad.

 

Quotes

Quote

Stage Manager was meant to extend a new multi-window multitasking model to the iPad, but developers and people who cover Apple for a living have been complaining about stability and unpredictable behavior for months, problems that were still present even in recent betas. Controversially, the feature also required a recent M1-powered iPad Pro or Air to work.

Quote

In the beta of iPadOS 16.1 shipped today, Apple is narrowing Stage Manager's scope and adjusting its system requirements. According to an Apple statement provided to Engadget, the company "worked hard to find a way to deliver a single screen version [of Stage Manager]" for users of the 2018- and 2020-model iPad Pros.

Quote

Apple software engineering SVP Craig Federighi said in an interview earlier this year that Stage Manager was only happening on M1 iPads because those models have extra RAM and faster flash memory (for swapping to the iPad's storage when RAM is full) that were necessary to make the feature run smoothly

 

 

 

My thoughts

While this is good to see Apple bringing Stage Manager to more devices, I'm not entirely sure I believe them about the reasons for keeping the Stage Manager exclusive to the A12X/A12X and M1 iPads. I think Apple was trying to push the M1 iPads and use this as an excuse to get them to upgrade or buy an iPad for the first time. Now that the A12X and A12Z iPad Pros have it, I suspect Apple will be slightly less successful in convincing people to buy the M1 powered iPads. It does also beg the question if Apple knew they wanted to add these kind of features to iPadOS then why didn't they start giving iPads enough RAM to support it unless the whole point was to keep it exclusive to the expensive iPads.

 

Sources

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2022/09/new-ipados-beta-adds-stage-manager-to-older-ipads-delays-external-display-support/

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I think they did want to keep it exclusive to the expensive iPads - because otherwise, there aren't many reasons to get the Pro other than the Apple pencil (which could also be used on the mini and the Air).

 

However, I think the reason it isn't on the other ones is because of RAM limitations - I know the 64 GB iPad Air has the M1 but it doesn't have the virtual memory swap thing - and the RAM speed, considering the switch to DDR5 on the M1 models compared to slower DDR4. That might just be me stretching though.

(Although I understand why it isn't on the mini - there's literally not enough screen space there lol)

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46 minutes ago, mecarry30 said:

I think they did want to keep it exclusive to the expensive iPads - because otherwise, there aren't many reasons to get the Pro other than the Apple pencil (which could also be used on the mini and the Air).

You mean the newer Apple Pencil? At this point all iPads that Apple sells have support for one type of Apple Pencil or another. Basic iPad is the original Apple Pencil and the others are 2nd gen Apple Pencil.

46 minutes ago, mecarry30 said:

 

However, I think the reason it isn't on the other ones is because of RAM limitations - I know the 64 GB iPad Air has the M1 but it doesn't have the virtual memory swap thing

M1 can swap memory, just as the other modern (and probably not so modern) A series chips can.

 

Also, the M1 iPad Air always had this feature since the announcement. Apple said any iPad with an M1 chip originally could enable this feature.

46 minutes ago, mecarry30 said:

- and the RAM speed, considering the switch to DDR5 on the M1 models compared to slower DDR4.

M1 still uses LPDDR4X and not LPDDR5.

46 minutes ago, mecarry30 said:

That might just be me stretching though.

(Although I understand why it isn't on the mini - there's literally not enough screen space there lol)

Sure but the mini only has 4GB of RAM.

 

The A12X iPads had 6GB RAM iirc 4GB RAM  for all models besides the 1TB model which had 6GB and the A12Z iPads all had 8GB RAM of more 6GB RAM.

 

So I'm not sure why the A12Z iPads wouldn't have full support if they have enough ram.

 

Edit: Nope I was wrong. Still doesn't explain why a 6GB A12Z couldn't perform well on the full version of Stage Manager in Apple's testing when an 8GB M1 can.

Judge a product on its own merits AND the company that made it.

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