On Stage Manager Requiring an M1 iPad

Michael Tsai has his usual wide-ranging roundup of links on the controversy surrounding Apple’s decision to limit Stage Manager support to M1 iPads (2021 iPad Pros and this year’s 5th-generation iPad Air):

As a result, Stage Manager requires an M1 iPad. I honestly don’t understand his argument. I don’t think it’s that pre-M1 iPads couldn’t support virtual memory, since even the A12Z in the DTK did. That processor also had great performance running more simultaneous apps than iPadOS supports. Stage Manager is also supported on older Macs with Intel processors — and older graphics — that are less capable than recent-but-not-M1 iPads.

The controversy surrounding this boils down to people thinking Apple is doing this to get people who own older iPads to buy new ones just to get Stage Manager. I can’t prove it, but that doesn’t pass the sniff test to me. That’s just not how Apple rolls. But, clearly, this is the single most controversial news from last week.

Then he talks about needing fast flash storage for the virtual memory, which only the M1 iPads have, but PowerPC Macs were using spinning hard drives for virtual memory 20 years ago. Surely those were much slower.

Virtual memory on Macs back in the spinning hard drive era was ridiculously slow. In today’s world, when you see the spinning beachball cursor, it usually means some app on your Mac is wedged and needs to be force quit. 20 years ago, we’d see the spinning beachball cursor all the time and you just needed to wait for the system to catch up and return control to you. A lot of the time that was because of virtual memory swap with spinning hard disks.

He also says that Stage Manager is a “total experience that involves external display connectivity.” Why is an external display a requirement when most M1 iPad users don’t even use one?

Given the uproar surrounding this M1 requirement for Stage Manager, I wonder if Apple will reconsider over the summer, and perhaps do something like support Stage Manager on more iPads, but only on the built-in display, and make external display support the part that requires an M1 iPad.

But I can see what Apple is thinking by drawing a hard line with M1 iPads: they want to deliver Stage Manager for iPad without a slew of asterisks regarding which aspects of it work on which devices. As it stands with developer beta 1, an iPad either supports all of Stage Manager (including support for driving up to 6K external displays, and up to 8 apps), or none of it.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022