I’ve been using iPad os 16 on the new iPad Pro which I got from one of my friend’s smartphone shop, here in Mysuru Karnataka, India and I played with it for a little while. This blog is filled with my experience with the new iPad which was launched lately. This blog is all about the coolest new feature which is Stage Manager, now available on iPad with an update of iPadOS 16.
One of the biggest new features I noticed on it is called stage manager. Now, a lot of iPad power users have been excited for this feature to drop because we’ve been waiting for a sort of Mac like real multitasking experience on the iPad. So stage manager comes along, and it is technically a multitasking UI. But the more I use it, the more I can sort of crystallize this theory in my head, which is that Apple doesn’t seem to want the iPad to do anything, the same way the Mac does.
Now, this goes back a long way. You know, when the iPad first came out, it was more or less a gigantic iPhone, but it slowly gotten more and more powerful in front of our eyes. Until this point, we have $1,000 iPad Pro with a 13 inch mini LED display, and a whole M1 chip inside the exact same chip that’s in some of the most popular computers that they make. But the iPad software has stayed remarkably consistent, which is a nice way of saying it hasn’t advanced quite at the same rate as this hardware. So a lot of people have big iPad dreams of wanting this to be their only computer and have it be just as capable as any other computer, but it hasn’t been. And that’s been the biggest knock on the iPad for a while now.
But listening back to that two years later, it sounds even more like we haven’t really gotten around to doing it the iPad way yet. Even the headline on Apple’s website for iPad OS 16 incredibly capable unmistakably iPad. So when it comes to multitasking, this is like the last big hurdle on the iPads way to finally feel like it’s a real computer. We all know what we expect multitasking to look like on a normal computer, like a Mac, but in accordance with my theory.
But this is just my theory is Apple doesn’t ever want the iPads multitasking to look or feel or work like it does on a Mac, they’ve got to find a iPad way of doing this. Now to throw a wrench in my theory, this is also coming to the Mac in the latest version. But the latest feature here is called stage manager. And it’s not bad. It’s just an inherently new, different way of doing multitasking on a touchscreen or on a monitor like this. And it’s just another thing you’re going to have to learn to get the most out of this thing. So basically what it looks like is you enable it in the settings then toggle it on in control center.
Once you do, you can open up an app to bring it on stage. And then off to the left here you have your recent apps that are off stage. So your onstage app, it’s a window it isn’t quite full screen and so you can drag the corner and move it around and you can see that there’s a bunch of slightly different predetermined window sizes. It’s not perfectly fluid. It’s just a bunch of sizes that Apple picked and then you can bring other apps from off stage to be on stage at the same time.
So now this is officially the first time you can have more than one windowed app open at the same time on the iPad and again you can mess with the sizes you can group apps together and then you can bring them on or off stage at will so it is still definitely very much not the same thing as multiple windows open on a computer with the little buttons in the corner and then fully fluid window sizes and all this stuff. But it is running simultaneous things at once and it is multitasking and it is the iPad way you can have Up to four apps on a stage at once, which can look kind of ridiculous and probably even more so on a smaller iPad.
But then you can move a whole pile of apps off stage by switching to something else, and then bring all four of them back on at once. It’s just technically a lot happening simultaneously and then if you connect the iPad to an external display, finally, finally, the iPad doesn’t just mirror anymore, but it actually treats it like a second display to extend on to and lets you have up to four more piles to the side on stage manager. So you can really multitask to your heart’s content on a large display where it doesn’t feel as crowded. And you can have a ton of processes happening at once.
THINGS WHICH I FELT WERE NOT PERFECT
It’s impressive, but it’s not perfect. There are already some pretty well documented downsides. The first one just being that it’s not very widely available. Literally only m1 iPads will support this so resource intensive that it uses memory swap. So that’s not very many iPads right now. But more importantly, I still think this is a little bit complicated, and not the most intuitive thing in the world.
Now, this isn’t the end of the world for iPad power user who’s just like, Yeah, bring on the new UI and stuff. I’ll learn it, no problem. But are you also going to remember that if you open an app that’s already in another group, it will open that whole group. So you have to manually drag the app out into another group? If you want to work on a different set of apps? Or what about that you can’t make it automatically open apps maximize. So you have to drag them to cover the whole display or hit the dots at the top and hit ZOOM every time to bring the full screen. Or what about the fact that there are iPhone size apps still, like whatever the hell Instagram is still doing. They don’t resize at all.
And they seem to mess up the whole multitasking thing since you can’t seem to choose where it goes either. And also the fact that this feels like about the fifth different way to multitask on an iPad that’s buried behind some slightly obscure gestures and is off by default, there are still the three dots at the top of every window if stage manager isn’t on. And that’s how you still get into split screen apps, which again, have a set number of predetermined sizes. And that’s also how you get into slide over apps, which are the tall skinny apps that you get to by sliding over from the side, which by the way, have an entire multitasking carousel of their own.
You also can’t drag windows straight from an iPad to another display. So you got to click the three dots then move to display. And then do that same thing again, if you want to move them back. And the iPad does not work with a secondary display while its own screen is off. So like a laptop computer might have clamshell mode where you close it, but it’s still plugged into a monitor you can use with the iPad if this screen is off. So is everything is connected to plus, don’t forget about the keyboard shortcuts. If you have the magic keyboard that goes along with the iPad, a lot of them are the same as they are on a Mac.
But there are some that are slightly different. It’s a lot. So I feel like you probably get what I’m saying the state of the iPad is fascinating apples given us an amazing piece of hardware. And it’s very powerful. And they’ve added a bunch of features to try to take advantage of it. But now in their effort to do it the iPad way every single time they’re walking a tightrope between two sides where one side is amazing, intuitive, powerful, on the other side is a little too complicated, a little bit unintuitive and hard to remember, they’re just right down the middle. For people who use an iPad. How do you use your iPad? What do you do specifically on the iPad? Are you a one full screen app at a time person you just keep it propped up in a folio touchscreen all the time?
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Author – Aaron Dsouza.