iPadOS 16 is a brilliant update... but only if you've got the latest iPads

iPadOS 16
(Image credit: Apple)

At Apple's WWDC conference on June 6, iPadOS 16 was announced with a focus on desktop-class features, something that users have been asking for, for years with the iPad.

The main feature from this was Stage Manager, which enables an iPad to use up to four apps at once, and you can resize these apps in any size you want, finally bringing windowed apps to the tablet.

Another benefit to this also enables external display support, so you can use up to eight apps at once, with four on each display, and using the left pane in Stage Manager, you can easily switch between the apps you want to focus on.

However, as good as this feature sounds, the catch to this is that it's only available on iPads with the M1 chip.

M1 or bust?

Since the M1 iPad Pro was announced in April 2021, users were confused as to, why. Why was an Apple Silicon chip that was available in the Mac, coming over to the tablet when the software barely took advantage of it?

Some were hoping for WWDC in 2021 to take advantage of the M1 iPad Pro, but the most significant change in iPadOS 15 was widgets on the home screen.

As the months passed, the iPad Air would also gain the M1 chip, and users were wondering if there was any point to this, when the software clearly wasn't taking advantage of what the chip offers.

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But we got our answer with iPadOS 16, as it clearly enables Stage Manager to elevate the tablet into a machine that can extend to another display, and use the new multitasking features.

However, the other side of this brings issues to those who have an iPad without an M1 chip inside.

If you have an iPad Air (5th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation), or iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation), you can use Stage Manager, but if you don't, you're still restricted to the multitasking that we've had since iPadOS 13.

While this does extend the ability of the iPad, the feature is more than capable of being able to work on earlier iPad Pro models, such as the 2018 redesign that brought FaceID and an all-screen look to the line.

Limiting this to the latest iPads would mean that users will need to consider what they use their tablet for, and whether Stage Manager is the deal-breaker in them upgrading to a newer iPad, or waiting to see if Apple concedes and allows the feature to be used on some older models.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.