Apple explains why Stage Manager is only available on M1 iPads

Craig Federighi explains why Stage Manager doesn’t work on all iPads

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Craig Federighi is looking to close the books on the great Stage Manager debate.

In an interview with Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, went into depth about the new feature and the technical reasons it is limited to iPads running an M1 processor.

When asked about why Stage Manager was brought to the iPad with iPadOS 16, the executive talked about how it was one of the only window management features currently available for Mac that made sense to bring to the tablet.

“On the Mac, there are so many different ways to work. Some people use spaces, some people are in and out of Mission Control. Some people are command tab people, some people like to create a mess, some people clean up their messes and some people use minimization. I mean, there’s no wrong answer here, there are a lot of valid ways to work on the Mac.”

“iPad has a unique proposition, a unique set of expectations around interaction and we wanted to build from that place, not just drag things over from, you know, decades past or another system that was built on a different set of foundational principles. And so Stage Manager is, I think, an important step on that evolutionary arc,” says Federighi.

While Apple has released its own statements about why Stage Manager is limited to iPads with an M1 processor, that has not stopped many from complaining about the lack of support for older models, claiming that Apple could bring the experience to A-Series iPads but chose not to for sales purposes.

Federighi is seeking to end that speculation, providing a multi-faceted explanation about all of the technical reasons the feature is only possible with the M1 chip:

“It’s only the M1 iPads that combined the high DRAM capacity with very high capacity, high performance NAND that allows our virtual memory swap to be super fast,” Federighi says. “Now that we’re letting you have up to four apps on a panel plus another four – up to eight apps to be instantaneously responsive and have plenty of memory, we just don’t have that ability on the other systems.”

“We also view stage manager as a total experience that involves external display conductivity. And the IO on the M1 supports connectivity that our previous iPads don’t, it can drive 4k, 5k, 6k displays, it can drive them at scaled resolutions. We can’t do that on other iPads.”

“We really designed Stage Manager to take full advantage [of the M1]. If you look at the way the apps tilt and shadow and how they animate in and out. To do that at super high frame rates, across very large displays and multiple displays, requires the peak of graphics performance that no one else can deliver.

“When you put all this together, we can’t deliver the full stage manager experience on any lesser system,” Federighi says. “I mean, we would love to make it available everywhere we can. But this is what it requires. This is the experience we’re going to carry into the future. We didn’t want to constrain our design to something lesser, we’re setting the benchmark for the future.”

You can read the entire interview at TechCrunch.

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