The introduction of the iPadOS 16 at the 2022 Worldwide Developers Conference of Apple on 6 June 2022 came with the announcement of new features and functionalities for iPad devices, including a new multitasking feature called the Stage Manager.
Pros of Stage Manager: Benefits and Applications
Note that Stage Manager is also available in macOS Ventura. It is fundamentally a multi-tasking feature that automatically organizes and manages multiple app windows while also allowing users to group opened windows of the same apps or a particular group of opened apps to enable seamless switching and a smoother workflow experience.
The same feature is now available for the iPad running on the Apple M1 chip. This is the first time that an iPad device allows users to run overlapping app windows rather than the usual side-by-side orientation of two opened apps that was introduced in the older versions of the iPadOS. It fundamentally equips enabled iPads with a true multi-tasking capability.
Below are the specific benefits and applications of this new iPadOS multitasking feature:
• Multiple Overlapping Windows: One of the more specific features of Stage Manager on iPad is that it allows users to open multiple app windows at once. These windows are overlapping for easier access.
The entire interface is similar to the multitasking interface found on desktop operating systems such as Windows and macOS, as well as certain multitasking interfaces used on top of the Android operating system such as the Samsung Dex.
• Movable and Resizable Windows: The overlapping windows can also be moved across the screen. For example, a user might choose to move one app window toward the upper or left-side portion of the screen while moving another to the bottom portion.
Furthermore, each window can be resized depending on the priority of a particular user. He or she might choose to have a bigger window for a notetaking app while choosing to have a smaller window for his or her web browser app.
• Automatic Organization: Another advantage of the Stage Manager is that it automatically organizes apps. Note that users have an option to organize opened apps according to their individual preferences.
The multitasking interface also actively resized and adjusts the size or content view of each app window. This is ideal for working with numerous apps simultaneously or when launching the interface for the first time.
• Background App Updates: Apps remain active while in the background. To illustrate this, a running email client window or messaging app will continue to receive and show unread messages while another app is running in the foreground.
The entire operating system takes advantage of the efficient memory utilization and powerful processing capabilities of the Apple M1 chip. Switching between apps is not only easier but also more fluid and convenient.
• Works With External Display: What makes Stage Manager even better is that it extends the screen area of a capable iPad through an external display. Note that iPads can be connected to another monitor using an appropriate cable.
The screen of the iPad and the screen of the connected external display comprise the entire digital workspace. Users can readily drag and drop opened app windows across the two screens. This is suitable for working with numerous apps at once.
Cons of Stage Manager: Drawbacks and Limitations
Stage Manager makes suitable iPad devices better at productivity applications because of the numerous use-case possibilities from seamless app switching and a higher level of multitasking. It does bring a new level of multitasking capabilities to these devices. However, it is still far from perfect and it still falls short when compared to desktop computers.
Below are the specific drawbacks and limitations of this new iPadOS multitasking feature:
• Exclusive For M1 Devices: Not all iPad devices can run and use this multitasking feature. A notable disadvantage of Stage Manager is that it is not available on all iPad devices. This feature is only accessible to M1-powered devices.
Apple is not clear as regards the reason why other devices cannot support this feature. Even previous generations of the iPad Pro such as the 2020 iPad Pro that runs on the Apple A12Z Bionic chip cannot run this feature.
• Limited Desktop Experience: Another drawback is that this new multitasking feature and the corresponding multitasking interface still do not provide a complete user experience similar to a desktop computer.
Note that even the Samsung Dex has a better implementation of tablet-based multitasking because it essentially transforms a suitable Samsung Galaxy tablet into a desktop computer reminiscent of a Windows user interface.
• App Compatibility Issues: It is also important to note that not all apps can support window resizing and overlapping. There are still apps that can only run on full screen. Most apps will catch up once developers roll out software updates.
The “Settings” app of the iPadOS is an example. Despite choosing to activate the Stage Manager feature, this app will open in full screen. The same is true for most game titles, especially resource-intensive and graphics-heavy games.
In A Nutshell: Pros and Cons of Stage Manager on iPad
A key benefit of Stage Manager is that it makes iPad devices even closer to working as a Mac computer or other desktop computers. Because this multitasking interface is also available in macOS, interacting with apps and using multitasking features across two platforms would look and feel similar, thus flattening the learning curve.
The support for an external display is also a big change and a welcome advantage. It does not simply mirror the on-screen display in an iPad. Instead, it fully extends the entire iPad screen and user experience to a second screen for a larger digital workspace.
However, the fact remains that not all iPad devices support this multitasking feature, even the previous non-M1 iPad Pro generations. Unsupported devices now seem obsolete. Furthermore, because of its limited capabilities, it is still quite far from providing users with a complete desktop experience, especially for individuals who are heavy multitaskers.