While Apple has touted Stage Manager as the iPad’s new way of multitasking that introduces windows and soon supports external displays, it’s been five months since WWDC 2022 and it’s at the point where the feature should be scrapped.
I’ve been a fan of the iPad since its debut in 2010, thanks to its design and software improvements that have come over the years, like split-view, Apple Pencil, and more.
However, when iPadOS 16 was announced at WWDC in June, Apple went to great lengths to make sure users knew the iPad was capable of replacing a computer, with desktop-class apps and this new way of multitasking.
Since then, Stage Manager has seen a plethora of bug fixes and some recent changes where it will be available on other iPads. However, we’re still at a point where it’s buggy, confusing, and generally in a state that makes me think it’s far from ready for its debut later this month.
enough is enough
iOS 9 introduced split view on the iPad where you can have split screen apps and a ‘Slideover’ view for a third app. But users, myself included, wanted something more, especially to take advantage of the iPad Pro’s 12.9-inch screen.
Plenty also wanted external monitor support to manage more apps at the same time, especially when working from home was a standard in 2020. And while Stage Manager met both of these needs with separate windows and external monitor support until it was delayed, the execution so far has been terrible.
I enjoyed using it in July – I gave it the benefit of the doubt at the time as it had only been a month since WWDC and usually with some features they can change and be fixed over the summer period until they reach a final release.
However, this is not the case with Stage Manager – as recently as last night I was trying to manage Safari, Infuse and Notes by resizing them in different windows, and it crashed every time.
There are other oddities where you can have two windows active, and if you disable Stage Manager it will sometimes revert to split view, but an app will be something entirely different, not the two apps that were previously windowed.
A tour of the latest beta version of Stage Manager for iPadOS 16: – I rotated my iPad and the dock disappeared – Black borders around windows – Keyboard freezes in apps like Mail and @theSpringApp after opening new windows – I resized a window and she blew up in my face So that’s it. pic.twitter.com/Twi5K3SeSHOctober 4, 2022
I’m not alone in this – many others on Twitter are also expressing their frustrations with Stage Manager, and concerns are brewing.
Rumor has it that we’ll see new iPads soon, alongside the debut of iPadOS 16.1, but perhaps this is an occasion when Apple needs to put up its hands, admit that Stage Manager isn’t ready, and hold off until next year.
I’ve talked before about how Stage Manager is at risk of falling to the sword of iPadOS with its snappy grid view and unclear labels, and it’s more relevant now than ever. The whole feature needs a rethink, but iPadOS also needs a rethink on how it can better serve multitasking on the iPad.
The way apps fit into a grid is a quirk of iPadOS, not something required by Stage Manager. That’s why the feature works best on macOS Ventura, as there’s no grid for an app to fit into – you can place an app anywhere on the screen.
We’ll see it redesigned for a future release, Apple. Learn from this period and perhaps ask the iPad community how they can be better served with application management compared to what is currently being offered.
For now, iPadOS 16.1 is in danger of being as big of an issue as Maps in iOS 6, and no one, especially Apple, wants that again.