Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Stage Manager in iPadOS 16.1


Stage Manager is an entirely new multitasking experience that automatically organizes apps and windows, making it quick and easy to switch between tasks. For the first time on iPad, users can create overlapping windows of different sizes in a single view, drag and drop windows from the side, or open apps from the Dock to create groups of apps for faster, more flexible multitasking. The window of the app users are working on is displayed prominently in the center, and other open apps and windows are arranged on the left-hand side in order of recency.

In an update for M1 and M2 iPad models later this year, Stage Manager will unlock full external display support with resolutions of up to 6K, so users will be able arrange the ideal workspace, and work with up to four apps on iPad and four apps on the external display simultaneously.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

It’s RC time, and iPadOS 16.1 with Stage Manager is locked in. I’m not seeing any meaningful improvement over where we were in the final betas re design issues. The most glaring bugs have been patched over; you can still crash SpringBoard by hitting ⌘-W while dragging a window


I can confirm that Stage Manager finally works in the iPad Simulator with the Xcode 14.1 RC. This particular nightmare is finally over — if you’re a developer without an iPad Pro, you can finally test how your apps function in iPadOS 16’s windowing environment

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Virtually everything I flagged as wrong with Stage Manager during WWDC week is shipping almost unchanged, so Apple’s gotta be really sure of this design to be here five months later.

Kalani Helekunihi:

What gets me is how bad the VoiceOver and VoiceControl experience is with StageManager.

Scrollable views jump up outside the frame of the app, and there is no sense of which window is in focus. But apps moving without user input is bad!

Took best screen reader and made unusable.

Federico Viticci:

If you’re an indie developer and think your iPad app needs work for Stage Manager, don’t feel bad!

Apple’s Settings app is so outdated, when you resize it in Stage Manager, you get its portrait version…

…in landscape mode.

Federico Viticci:

Resizing Apple’s Camera app in Stage Manager. When you make it smaller, the camera view is flipped.

Jef Holbrook:

Stage Manager on iPad is here but is it ready? My cat and I try to find out.

Via John Gruber:

The design remains muddled and implementation half-baked. But the new iPad hardware is here so it’s time to ship.

Colin Devroe:

If Apple ships Stage Manager for iPadOS on Monday they have become Microsoft of the 2000s; Too big to ship good software at scale and no longer willing to say “no” when they must.

They’d still be the best software design company in the world so that tells you something.

David Pierce:

After testing the first public beta in July, I wrote that I hated Stage Manager. It didn’t solve any of the iPad’s multitasking problems for me and actually managed to create some new ones. Since then, I’ve been following along as Apple has tinkered with the feature over the last few months through the company’s public beta process for iPadOS 16. And now, as version 16.1 makes its way to iPads everywhere, I regret to inform you that Stage Manager still doesn’t work. This is not the iPad multitasking you’re looking for.


At best, it feels totally disconnected from everything else about the iPad; at worst, it’s just broken. Way too often, it’s both.


Okay, so you open an app, and it opens into Stage Manager. That kicks the fifth-most recent pile… out of Stage Manager. But then, if you reopen an app from that old pile, it comes back into Stage Manager, along with the rest of its pile! So it wasn’t gone — it was just hidden. If you have an app open in two piles, there’s no way to know which will open if you click a link to that app.


There’s really no discernible mental model to help you understand how Stage Manager works, and it often doesn’t seem like anyone at Apple has used this thing for very long. Why does every app, including Netflix and games and other obviously full-screen apps, open into Stage Manager?

Federico Viticci (tweet, MacRumors, tweet):


For better or worse, Stage Manager is showing us the trajectory Apple has chosen for the future of the iPadOS platform, and it’s one designed for modularity, power users, and multiple input methods. Plus a whole lot of weirdness. And bugs.

Nick Heer:

Stage Manager may be shipping as an optional off-by-default windowing mode, but it is clearly unfinished and so inconsistent as to make you wonder if there is anyone with a specific vision for how iPad multitasking should work.

Nearly thirteen years after the iPad’s introduction, I think that is what it is most missing. It still feels like multitasking is a tacked-on bonus feature for a committed enough user.

Mert Dumenci:

Stage Manager has genuinely changed how I use my iPad — I reach for it a lot more, use and enjoy it for most of my daily tasks. Huge congrats to the folks involved. 👏

Scott McNulty:

Stage Manager makes my iPad feel like a whole new device!

One that I have no idea how to use and is super confusing.

Rui Carmo:

I have been trying it out for a couple of hours and although it is clearly somewhere between half baked and awkward (and yes, it’s already blown up on me, from random keyboard failures to full-on Springoard reloads), Stage Manager is already pretty useful to people like me, especially with both a-Shell and the new Blink update (provided you do the sane thing and use tmux in case iOS wipes your sessions).


Twelve years later, and I can finally use an iPad without it feeling like a bigger iPod Touch.

Federico Viticci:

Tried Stage Manager on iPadOS 16.2 beta 1. You know the drill[…]


Update (2023-05-22): Steve Troughton-Smith:

It’s just a couple weeks away from WWDC one whole year later, and I’m having to look up the WebKit source code for the private API to check if Stage Manager is enabled — because we still have zero public APIs — just to hide the ‘Open in New Window’ button in my app when run on a regular iPad that will refuse to spawn them and do nothing when it’s clicked. Very disappointing level of developer support for a major part of the iPad user experience.

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