Even M1 iPad users will benefit from Apple bringing Stage Manager to older hardware

Stage Manager will be coming to more iPad Pros with iPadOS 16, and that’s a policy change worth applauding. Apple originally planned to limit the new multitasking feature to iPads powered by its M1 chip. While there are some drawbacks of this feature shift, the change bodes well for the original class of iPads.

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Since Stage Manager and iPadOS 16 haven’t been released yet, we haven’t seen how many third-party apps will release updates optimizing for the new feature. Apple vastly expanded the number of iPads already in the wild that will work with Stage Manager, however.

Prior to today’s change of plans, enhancing apps for Stage Manager only affected users with the latest iPad Pro and iPad Air. Depending on the app, developers could reasonably justify not prioritizing Stage Manager enhancements over features that more users could use.

Apple doesn’t release sales data, but including 2018 and 2020 iPad Pros has to mean way more users will actually experience Stage Manager.

Will external display support improve?

The disappointing part of today’s iPadOS 16.1 beta 3 release is that external display support has been removed. Apple is punting this feature for later in the year. External display support will also still require M1 and up as originally planned. That’s much more reasonable than omitting 2018 and 2020 iPad Pros altogether.

External display support through Stage Manager requires a monitor, mouse, and keyboard so this specific feature will be more niche than the general multitasking experience. It’s also one of the buggier aspects of Stage Manager.

Giving external display support more time to bake is the right move. On the scale of iPadOS, Stage Manager in general is an ambitious feature. If Apple wants Stage Manager to be used and not ignored, making a good first impression with users is important.

We shouldn’t expect external display support to gain more features during this time, however. Apple is clearly working behind schedule already and focusing on getting the basics right first. We can still dream of a more capable Stage Manager on M2 iPad Pros, and an Apple monitor priced below the Studio Display would pair nicely.

Additionally, this change will affect some iPad Pro and iPad Air users who were already using external display support in beta. Updating to iPadOS 16.1 beta 3 removes support. By the end of the year, however, this loss will hopefully be restored.


We won’t know what level of stability Stage Manager will have at launch until Apple gives a date for iPadOS 16’s release. The verdict is still out on how effective the additional time to develop the feature has been. You don’t have to look far to find a critic who finds the overall implementation flawed.

Apple’s move today does help turnaround the reputation Stage Manager has had since June, however, and talk of further delaying or abandoning the feature has ended.

Does today’s policy change affect your iPad Pro? Are you someone who wants to see Stage Manager on more iPads not listed yet? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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