The iPadOS 16 icon confirms the option to enable Stage Manager on older iPads

Here we are again with another article on Stage Manager. One of the main features of iPadOS 16 was the ire of many iPad users because it required the M1 chip, leaving users of older iPad models stuck with the original iPadOS multitasking system without floating windows. But it seems Apple has its own ways of enabling Stage Manager on older iPads.

After all the controversy about the theater director, 9to5Mac I decided to investigate by looking at the iPadOS 16 code. What we found is that, in fact, Apple has an internal mode to enable Stage Manager on older iPads.

Codes refer to an internal setting that enables “Chamois” (the stage manager’s code name) for “legacy devices”. In other words, it makes the feature work with any iPad other than the M1 running iPadOS 16. This aligns with a statement from Apple’s head of software engineering, Craig Federighi, who said that Apple conducted tests with Stage Manager on more iPad models before it launched. It was decided that the feature required the M1 chip.

We started some of our prototypes incorporating these systems and it turned out early on that we couldn’t deliver the experience we were designing with them. Sure, we’d like to offer any new experience to every device we can, but we also don’t want to hold back the definition of a new experience and not create the best foundation for the future in that experience. And we can only do that by building on the M1.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Stage Manager runs smoothly on older iPads, but having this option hidden in the first beta build of the iPadOS 16 developer suggests that the company’s engineers may still be running tests with the feature on some other iPad models.

Theater director controversy

Having exclusive features for new devices is nothing new. However, when it comes to Stage Manager, users seem skeptical about the limitations Apple has pointed out.

For example, Craig Federighi said in an interview that having a virtual memory swap (something only available on an M1 chip) was critical to creating Stage Manager since the feature supports up to eight applications open at the same time. However, it was later discovered that the 64GB iPad Air 5, which supports Stage Manager, lacks memory swapping.

Apple executives have also indicated that the requirements for Stage Manager should be very high since the feature has smooth animations and beautiful shadows, but this also seems controversial given that the feature was available for Intel Macs as old as 2017 with macOS Ventura.

It’s not clear at this point if Apple will reconsider the requirements for Stage Manager in iPadOS 16. Last year when macOS Monterey was announced, Live Text was an exclusive feature for M1 Macs. However, after several complaints, Apple made the feature available for Intel Mac devices as well.

I’m just wondering if we’ll see for ourselves how Stage Manager works on iPads other than the M1 to draw our own conclusions thanks to some jailbreaking tools.

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