Apple brings laptop-like multitasking to the iPad with Stage Manager

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,719   +1,167
Staff member
Bottom line: Last month, an Apple iPad accessory patent revealed Cupertino's plans to expand the tablet's versatility by adapting it to something closer to a 2-in-1, like Microsoft's Surface line. Apple already has keyboards that somewhat fit this need, but the iPad's operating system has held it back due to its limited multitasking ability.

During WWDC 2022 on Monday, Apple gave us a preview of iPadOS 16, which addresses the iPad's multitasking — or lack thereof — with a new feature it calls Stage Manager. Now users can say goodbye to split-screen multitasking with just two apps and hello to up to eight apps running simultaneously.

It starts with Stage Manager on the iPad itself. Full-screen windows can now easily be resized by dragging the corner inward. Doing this creates a Mac-like desktop. "Mac-like" because you cannot place files on the desktop. However, you do get a similar dock to macOS for accessing your most used apps.

Furthermore, up to four windows can be resized and used together. Stage Manager will adjust the other apps' placement to optimize the workspace when users position or resize the active window. Additionally, off to the left side are four groupings. Each of these can also have up to four apps, essentially expanding your multitasking to up to 16 apps, although only four can run simultaneously while the rest are in standby mode.

The new iPad operating system has full external display support (up to 6K). Plugging into an additional monitor allows Stage Manager to handle another four apps for up to eight concurrently running applications. There are also five extra groupings on the external monitor organized by recency. Apps can be slid back and forth between displays, just like a traditional dual-monitor setup. Users can quickly share content from one app with another app running on the other monitor.

Unfortunately, Stage Manager is only compatible with the iPad Pro and iPad Air equipped with the M1 SoC. So for right now, only newer iPad owners get the advantage. However, it's not always best to be an early adopter. As time goes on, users will eventually upgrade, and the feature will likely have been improved and polished by that time.

Stage Manager is also coming to macOS Ventura, but without the processor limitation — at least Apple did not mention such a restriction in its press release. It works much the same way, although there are other ways to manage windows on a Mac that may be more favorable. I prefer BetterSnapTool, but I will undoubtedly give Stage Manager a go when it releases this fall alongside iOS 16 and iPadOS 16.

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Posts: 2,257   +4,397
It seems like a lot of wasted software engineers working on reinventing the ipados into some sort of magical hybrid of productivity: the stupid tablets have the exact same chips the laptops and desktops have just let them run macos. You can even limit it to being 'docked' on a keyboard and trackpad if you're worried about the 'experience' being lesser or whatever.

Sad part is that most people interested in this will predictably go "Oh...It's kinda neat but why is this not just macos all the way?"

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 1,564   +1,467
FFS Apple just give us a MacOS lite for the iPad Pro at least and the lesser iPads can get the new iPadOS. I would rather buy a MacBook Air with the M2 processor as I can actually do real work on it and use a mouse and get some additional ports.


Posts: 108   +30
It be interesting to see reviews when it comes out how the external monitor support and multitasking is like but seem Apple is slowing adding more and more pro features every year.

What is holding the iPad back is proper desktop apps like full Microsoft Office suite, Libra Office, GIMP and full desktop browsers.

But some of the open source apps may be license thing why it will not ever get ported over.



Posts: 761   +643
I think if this is true, then it is a big step ahead for Apple that has fallen behind Samsung badly when it comes to offering a better user experience for their end users. Knowing Apple, they will definitely try and dumb down some features so as not to cannibalise the sale of their Macs.


Posts: 1,502   +3,247
My 3rd gen ipad pro 12.9 with 512 gb its already half way obsolete.

I hate samsung bloatware, but looks like im jumping in…unless google can finally release a decent tablet.

Not spending more money on apple.


Posts: 525   +546
Until Apple permits iPad to run MacOS, iPad is just media consumer nothing more nothing less.

It's glorious device, but iPOS is just garbage. To some extent I understand why Apple persist with iPOS. Most of software on iOS/iPOS is subscription based. On MacOS you can buy one off license and you're happy bunny. Of course not for everything, but a lot.

If iPad could run MacOS (well it certainly can as it uses same silicone exactly, but Apple locked it out), I would buy the most bananas iPad out there and upgrade it regularly (like that 3D camera function for C4D is great, but no MacOS, no upgrade). As things stand I'll stay with 3rd gen Pro. Yeah would be nice to have 8GB of RAM sometimes, but without MacOS I can live with only 4.