Craig Federighi promises Stage Manager improvements with upcoming iPadOS 16 betas


iPadOS 16 brings one of the biggest upgrades to iPad multitasking ever thanks to the new Stage Manager feature. So far, Stage Manager on the iPad has met with mixed reviews and criticism for Apple’s decision only limit to the latest M1 iPad Air and iPad Pro.

In a new interview with TechCrunch, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, detailed the future of Stage Manager, the decision to be limited to the M1 iPads, and more.

Craig Federighi on Stage Managers:

Regarding the criticism that Stage Manager is only supported on the M1 iPad Air and iPad Pro, Federighi explained that one of the biggest challenges was ensuring the feature met Apple’s expectations of “interactive responsiveness”. Essentially, this is Apple’s expectation that “any app you can touch must be able to respond essentially instantly.”

According to Federighi, the M1 iPads were the only models that could meet these expectations, thanks to their larger amount of RAM, faster storage and support for virtual memory swapping.” He explained:

“Only the M1 iPads combine the high DRAM capacity with very high capacity and high-performance NAND, making our virtual memory swapping super fast,” says Federighi. “Now that we’re giving you up to four apps on a panel plus four more – up to eight apps to be instantly responsive and have lots of storage, we just don’t have that capability on the other systems.”

Federighi also noted that only the M1 iPads can support the full breadth of external display capabilities due to the Thunderbolt connector. Graphics performance also played a role in this decision, he added.

“When you put all of this together, we can’t deliver the full Stage Manager experience on any system less than that,” says Federighi. “I mean, we’d like to make it available everywhere we can. But that’s what it requires. We will carry this experience into the future. We didn’t want to limit our design to anything less, we set the benchmark for the future.”

Looking ahead to the future of Stage Manager, Federighi said Apple is closely monitoring feedback and reactions to the version of the feature included in iPadOS 16 Beta 1. As you might expect, Federighi promised Apple will keep working on the feature and making improvements over the summer.

Federighi noted that Apple already has a number of new features and changes planned:

“We already had a few of these planned in terms of Stage Manager on both Mac and iPad,” says Federighi. “And some of the feedback we got was things where we were like, ‘Yeah, I mean, that’s coming in seed two or seed three!’ We’ve already identified these things, either that or bugs or just incomplete elements or behavior changes.

“There wasn’t anything we saw that made us think, whoa, this is unexpected news. A lot of them are either the response we expect from people who somehow haven’t adapted to the system, or in areas where we have refinements in flight. So yes, we will definitely continue that.”

The full interview at TechCrunch is worth a read and includes some additional tidbits about the Stage Manager development process, why Apple brought it to iPad and Mac at the same time, and more.

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