The Real Reason Why iPadOS 16's Best Feature Is For M1 iPads Only

Apple's WWDC 2022 event naturally brought new things for everyone, including those hoping for some new hardware. The 2022 MacBook Air came bearing a new M2 chip and slightly new color options, but it may have been iPadOS 16 that shined the brightest on stage. After all, the upcoming release will bring the tablet closer to becoming a true laptop replacement while also blurring the lines between iPadOS and macOS. At the same time, however, it might also be one of the most confusing releases as far as feature availability is concerned, and Apple is now explaining why one of its best and most desirable features is going to be limited to three iPad models only, at least until new iPad generations are launched.

Stage Manager is the blanket term for iPadOS 16's new window management features. That includes the ability to resize app windows, have them overlap with each other, and use app grouping, plus there's a new overview for running apps and a way to put the current app front and center without making it full screen like usual.

Stage Manager, however, is only available for iPads running Apple's M1 chip, which — for now — is a very short list comprising the 5th-gen iPad Pro 12.9, the 3rd-gen iPad Pro 11, and the 5th-gen iPad Air. Apple told Digital Trends the reason for this limitation is that Stage Manager relies heavily on another feature that's also coming with iPadOS 16 called virtual memory swap. Similar to what's happening on Android and what has been available on desktops for years, this feature allows iPadOS 16 to use up to 16GB of internal storage as RAM to make room for more apps.

The newest hardware gets the best features

There are other features that will also be exclusive to M1 iPads or at least have special features available only on those devices. iPads running Apple's silicon will have better support for external displays up to 6K resolutions and can even drag and drop windows and files between the iPad screen and the external monitor. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro gets some special features of its own, including the ability to use its large screen as a secondary reference display for Macs.

Despite the ongoing confusion, iPadOS 16 will undoubtedly be exciting to owners of M1 iPads. Older models that will still be supported in this upcoming release do get a bunch of new features as well, particularly those that they share with iOS 16 in general. That could be a tad disappointing for owners of non-M1 iPads, especially considering how Apple's older A chips are still performing well, perhaps making them feel like the company is nudging them to buy a new slate soon.