Old iPad Pros get Stage Manager in awesome free iPadOS 16 upgrade

iPadOS 16 beta brings Stage Manager to iPad Pros that aren't powered by an M1 chip

Apple iPad Pro running Stage Manager on iPadOS 16
(Image credit: Apple)

When Apple unveiled the new features coming to iPadOS 16 at WWDC 2022, it was the introduction of an awesome new productivity tool, Stage Manager, that made the biggest impact. For iPads running on Apple's M1 chip, which is what Stage Manager could work with, it was a great free upgrade.

Which is why the confirmation that the iPadOS 16 developer beta allows Stage Manager to run on non-M1 powered iPad Pros will be music to the ears of so many iPad owners. Stage Manager is going to work on many of the older best iPads, too.

The news, as reported by Engadget (opens in new tab), revealed how Apple is making Stage Manager work with a number of older iPads, including the first generation and later 11-inch iPad Pro and the third-gen and later 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Apple officially states that:

"Customers with iPad Pro 3rd and 4th generation have expressed strong interest in being able to experience Stage Manager on their iPads. In response, our teams have worked hard to find a way to deliver a single-screen version for these systems, with support for up to four live apps on the iPad screen at once."

This means that iPad Pro models that use the A12X or A12Z chips, which came before M1, will be able to run Stage Manager. This is great news, however, it does come with a catch.

That catch is that while Stage Manager will run on these older iPads and be fully usable on the device, users won't be able to extend their display from the iPad onto an external monitor, which is a feature that M1-powered iPads will be able to do.

What's interesting is that, according to the report, Apple is also removing external display support for Stage Manager on M1 iPads in the iPadOS 16 developer beta 5. The slate maker is reportedly then going to re-introduce the feature with a further software update later on this year. This points to some teething issues when using an external display.

The T3 take: A great new feature delivered for free

This is the sort of development we love to see here at T3, hardware makers continuing to bring new features to older devices even years after they've been on the market. It rewards the loyal customers who bought those products in the first place, helping them squeeze extra value and life out of that product, while also helping to build brand trust, which often then leads to same-brand purchases.

Stage Manager was described by us as a 'game changer' on announcement, and regardless of missing external display support, it looks like a really great productivity and multi-tasking upgrade for Apple's super slates. Stage Manager makes the experience delivered on iPad Pro and iPad Air closer to that offered on macOS, which considering the power now delivered by those slates, makes perfect sense. Increasingly people are buying and using iPad Pros as their main computing device, and Stage Manager makes this easier.

So the fact even more iPad Pro owners, stretching back to models that debuted in 2018, will be able to get in on the Stage Manager action, is great news. Apple deserves a big hat tip here.

Stage Manager is available right now for iPadOS 16 developer beta testers, with the operating system's public release scheduled for October this year.

Deputy Editor for T3.com, Rob has been writing about computing, gaming, mobile, home entertainment technology, toys (specifically Lego and board games), smart home and more for over 15 years. You can find Rob's work in magazines, bookazines and online, as well as on podcasts and videos, too. Outside of his work Rob is passionate about motorbikes, skiing/snowboarding and team sports, with football and cricket two favourites. Feel free to contact him with any related products, events, and announcements.