Developer Steve Troughton-Smith has found that iPadOS 16 new Stage Manager is available on the base model of M1 iPad Air (5th generation) which does not feature a virtual memory swap, a requirement for the new multitasking tool.
The “Stage Manager” feature allows users to run up to 8 apps simultaneously on an iPad and an external display. Users can also organize and resize the windows as per their preferences or needs. However, the new capability is limited to M1 iPad models like the 2021 iPad Pro and 2022 iPad Air.
When users with the older iPad models, especially owners of 2020 iPad Pro models, expressed their dissatisfaction over the limited compatibility of Stage Manager, the company released a statement explaining that Stage Manager requires larger internal memory, faster storage, and flexible external display I/O which is only provided by the M1 chip and not the older processors.
If Stage Manager can run on M1 iPad Air without virtual memory then why not on older models?
Apple SVP of Software, Craig Federighi elaborated that Stage Manager was only made possible because of virtual memory swap and the M1 chip which delivers the apps’ animations and shadows.
Virtual memory swap is used by computers to reallocate some storage as virtual RAM when the computer’s actual RAM is being fully utilized by the apps and system. Macs already do memory swapping, and now with iPadOS 16, virtual memory swapping will be available on iPads.
Smith found that virtual memory swapping requires at least 128GB of storage, along with an M1 chip which is not available on 64GB iPad Air. So, that made him question Apple’s claim that virtual memory swap was a “critical dependency”.
The issue here is that not only Stage Manager is available on iPad Air (5th generation) without virtual memory swap but also on Intel-based Macs compatible with macOS Ventura.
For many, the Stage Manager’s limitation to the M1 chip raises a lot of questions. Our editor, Imran Hussain wrote that Apple’s reluctance to offer the new feature on older iPads “belittle its performance claims” because it sends a message that “older iPad models are apparently not fast enough to support this feature.”