Stage Manager is Apple’s solution to improve (or at least try to) the iPad’s multitasking system. This feature allows users to run apps in windowed mode, but there’s a catch: it only works with the M1 iPad Air and iPad Pro. Apple hasn’t said a word about changing the feature requirements at this point, but we found a way to see how Stage Manager would work on the iPad mini.
This is how Stage Manager works
First off, if you haven’t seen Stage Manager in action, it basically brings Windows to iPadOS 16. However, there are still some limitations when it comes to resizing and moving apps around the screen. It’s not exactly what you have on a Mac or Windows PC, but it certainly feels more like a real computer.
Unfortunately, only iPads equipped with the M1 chip support Stage Manager. Apple says it made the M1 chip a requirement because Stage Manager allows users to have up to eight apps open at once. Stage Manager also allows full support for an external display with a resolution of up to 6K, and unsurprisingly Apple claims that other iPads don’t have enough power for that.
Some users didn’t seem to believe Apple’s statements as some of them are quite controversial. For example, the company argues that Stage Manager benefits from the fast memory swap that’s only available on the M1 chip. However, the 64GB iPad Air 5 running Stage Manager lacks the RAM swap.
Stage Manager on iPad mini
Officially there is no way to enable Stage Manager on non-M1 iPads. However, 9to5Mac found a hidden internal mode in the iPadOS 16 code that enables Stage Manager on any iPad running the latest version of the operating system. Since there is no jailbreak tool available for iPadOS 16, we can’t enable this mode on a real iPad, but we can take a look using the iOS simulator – an Apple tool that developers can use to test their apps on a Mac.
More interesting than seeing how Stage Manager works on the previous generation iPad Pro or iPad Air, I was wondering how the feature would look on the iPad mini. And I just found that out.
Of course, the iPad mini display is too small for an advanced multitasking system, but still, Stage Manager can be very useful for some iPad mini users. I took some screenshots of the iOS simulator and sent them to my iPad mini so I can get a better idea of Stage Manager’s usability in terms of UI size. Honestly everything looks good enough for me.
You can open three iPhone-sized apps side by side without sacrificing usability, which seems perfect for checking multiple social networks while reading something. You can also open a larger window while leaving smaller windows in the background to quickly switch between them, which is great for dragging and dropping items.
Current iPads can already have up to three apps open at once with Split View and Slide Over, but the experience is much more limited since you can’t have all three apps side-by-side.
Will Apple ever change that?
Some users are willing to make a limited version of Stage Manager available for non-M1 iPads, but Apple has never said if that will ever be the case.
After seeing how Stage Manager works on the iPad mini, I’m convinced I’d like the ability to run apps in windowed mode, albeit with some limitations compared to the M1 iPads. As I once said, Windows isn’t just about how many apps you can run at once, it’s also about organization.
Stage Manager isn’t exactly perfect, but it certainly improves on the iPad’s poor multitasking system – and it’s a shame Apple wants to keep it for the more expensive iPads.
For now, iPadOS 16 beta remains exclusive to developers. According to Apple, the first public beta is scheduled for release later this month, while the official release is expected later this fall.
To update: You can download the following screenshots and open them on your iPad mini 6 to see the Stage Manager interface for yourself.
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