Apple iPadOS 16 Has Remarkable Features

When Apple integrated its M1 processor into the iPad Pro and iPad Air 2021, I wondered what all this performance was for. The A-series chips used by Apple in previous models worked very well with iPadOS, which was a surprise to see the same processor in computers like the MacBook Air and Mac Mini.

With iPadOS 16 that I have been beta testing over the past few weeks, it is now obvious why Apple has integrated The M1 into its recent iPads. It allows important new features around multitasking, which makes the iPad much more flexible, and it allows new workflows: things that experienced iPad users have been demanding for years. Apple calls this new multitasking scheme Stage Manager.

And although Stage Manager only works on the three iPad models with M1 support, this is by far the most important change to iPadOS in years, as well as the most remarkable feature currently available in the beta version of iPadOS 16. As usual, a variety of features announced by Apple last month at WWDC are not yet fully activated in the beta software.

Editable and overlapping application windows are the most obvious advantage offered by Stage Manager, but Vivek Bhardwaj, global product marketing at Apple, told Engadget in an Interview that the company considers Stage Manager to be much more than, in his words, “A little repetition of multitasking.”The overall goal was to figure out how to make apps more powerful on the iPad. “Taking a step back, we realized that there was a way for us to run applications not only on the iPad, but also on an external screen, to allow multitasking with multiple applications and to have speed and flexibility like users had never had before,” said Bhardwaj.

Despite the errors I experienced when running iPadOS 16 on a 2021 iPad Pro (more on that after), Bhardwaj’s assessment seems correct. With Stage Manager, the iPad feels much closer to a Mac than ever before, while maintaining the simplicity for which the iPad is known. This can be seen within certain limits-you can have at most four applications “on stage” at a time, so you can not stack as many windows and applications as you want. But this is a reasonable caveat: even on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, it can get tight if more than three applications are run on a single step. However, since iPadOS contains four newer phases on the left (each of which can accommodate up to four applications), it is easier than ever to switch between a variety of different applications.

For example, I am writing this story in a Pages document, next to it, a Notes instance is executed. I have Slack and messages in a communication-focused phase, a few Safari windows and my emails are easily accessible via the recent apps view on the left. I can also access any app from my Dock with a tap or use Spotlight to search for an app on my iPad if I need something that isn’t immediately available. There’s definitely a learning curve here, but it’s definitely a more powerful and flexible way to use an iPad than we’ve ever had before. It is significant that Apple offers iPad users complexity and customization at the expense of simplicity, which the company generally avoids.

This is twofold when you connect an iPad to an external display. Previously, you only had a mirror image of your iPad screen, but now the external display is a completely separate workspace. Stagemanager allows you to run a number of applications on this monitor, which makes using an iPad with a different screen much more useful than ever – and another example of why Stagemanager needs an iPad with M1 performance.

That is, in its unfinished form, Stage Manager is a little rough around the edges. When I used my iPad with an external display, the system crashed, often returning me to the home screen, which obviously negates the productivity gains. There are also oddities with applications that behave unpredictably when resizing their windows. I would expect these things to be improved when iPadOS 16 is officially released this fall, but be aware that the beta version still looks a lot like a beta version.

Stage Manager, which also comes to macOS Ventura, is a clear example of how Apple distinguishes its platforms, even when they share features. “On the iPad, have we looked at how to optimize [Stage Manager] for Multitouch?”Bhardwaj Said. “Because we know that people want to interact with this, we had to make sure that the adjustment of windows and overlapping windows was not overwhelming, not the feeling that you had to have precise cursor control and pixel-accurate arrangement.”This has led to a lot of automation in terms of how windows interact with each other and where they are placed when you add or resize applications to a scene.