iPadOS 16 code confirms option to enable Stage Manager on older iPads

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

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

The codes reference an internal setting that enables “Chamois” (the Stage Manager codename) for “Legacy Devices.” In other words, it makes the feature work with every other non-M1 iPad running iPadOS 16. This aligns with a statement from Apple’s head of software engineering Craig Federighi, who said that Apple ran tests with Stage Manager on more iPad models before deciding that the feature requires the M1 chip.

We began some of our prototyping involving those systems and it became apparent early on that we couldn’t deliver the experience that that we were designing toward with them. Certainly, we would love to bring 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 really could only do that by building on the M1.

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

The Stage Manager controversy

Having exclusive features for new hardware is not something new. However, when it comes to Stage Manager, users seem skeptical about the limitations pointed out by Apple.

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

Apple executives also pointed out that the Stage Manager requirements had to be super high since the feature has smooth animations and beautiful shadows, but this also seems controversial since the feature is available for Intel Macs as old as 2017 with macOS Ventura.

It’s unclear at this point whether 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 has made the feature available for Intel Macs as well.

I just wonder if we will ever get to see for ourselves how Stage Manager works on non-M1 iPads to draw our own conclusions thanks to some jailbreak tool.

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