Does Stage Manager merge macOS and iPadOS?


It’s early in the morning and we still don’t know how good one of the hottest new features in iPadOS 16 and macOS 13 Ventura will work in practice. And yet, if Stage Manager is anywhere near as awesome as it looked like in today’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote speech, significant changes could be coming to both platforms. Better still, we could be getting closer and closer to iPads behaving more like them best macs.

What is stage manager?

Stage Manager automatically organizes open apps and windows so users can focus on their work and still see everything at a glance. The current window that users are working in is prominently displayed in the center, and other open windows appear on the left, making it quick and easy to switch between tasks. Users can also group windows when working on specific tasks or projects that require different apps.

Stage Manager organizes open apps and windows so users can better focus on their work. On the Mac, this means the currently open window is prominently displayed in the center of the screen, while small screenshots of the others are lined up vertically down the left side of the display. On the iPad, Stage Manager offers the same functionality as on the Mac and also allows users to create overlapping windows of different sizes in a single view. The result on both devices is better organization.

Perhaps most important about the arrival of Stage Manager is that it’s just the latest in a series of steps that are bringing iPadOS closer to macOS. However, movement used to be measured by whether an app could successfully run on both platforms (many now can) or whether one could extend or mirror Mac to iPad. Stage Manager is different because it brings a similar tool to both platforms.

As one of my colleagues said shortly after Stage Manager was announced for both platforms, it’s a relatively small step in the right direction to make iPadOS much more like macOS and vice versa. Regardless, it’s a positive step.

A long way to go

If Apple wanted to bring macOS to a tablet, it could have done so long ago. It could have replaced iPadOS on iPads, or introduced an entirely new mobile device to sit alongside the iPad and target different users, perhaps dubbed an “iTablet” or “MacTab.” Instead, incremental updates bring the two operating systems closer together, but are far from becoming one.

Is the iPad with iPadOS 16 and Stage Manager now a suitable MacBook alternative? Absolutely not – just as Apple intended.

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