Apple has released iPadOS 16 public beta not too long ago and I was interested to see what the fuss is all about with the new version. The main feature that was released was Stage Manager and external monitor support. The latter is something I really wanted from my iPad Air 4 however, it appears that Apple isn’t going to be bringing to the non-M1 iPads anytime soon.
The elephant in the room
If you have been following iPadOS/iOS news lately, you will know that there has been great debate and controversy on why Apple hasn’t brought stage manager/external monitor support to the non-M1 iPads. It is a shame that they don’t plan on bringing it as I know for a fact that these A-series chips are powerhouses. My iPad Air 4 is basically my laptop at this point as it offers awesome battery life, fluid performance and plenty of multitasking functionality (i.e. split-screen) and third-party hardware support (i.e. trackpad, keyboard, mouse, audio interface, etc.)
The only thing I wish they had also brought over is proper external monitor support which would be greatly appreciated, even if it means just means two split apps + one slide-over app. The implementation is already there as we can see certain apps take advantage of external monitor, even on iPadOS 15.
I have tried stage manager on the macOS 13 beta however, I believe proper external-monitor support for non-M1 iPads is something Apple can give us as there is still time before we see the final release. Even if it doesn’t make it through, it doesn’t mean the iPad is worthless, that couldn’t be farther from the truth!
What I like
Honestly, nothing really has changed. However, I did notice that external mouse feels better and it now supports my Steelseries Rival 3 Wireless mouse which is excellent. We also get a full-featured weather app which is nice to see! The default Apple apps (e.g. notes, office-suite, etc.), all got nice upgrades and feel more like desktop applications. There are probably more new features but those are the ones I’ve come across.
What I want
Come on Apple, all we really want is proper external monitor support. Floating windows is nice but once you are used to a split-screen layout, stage manager and floating implementations aren’t necessary. The thing I love about my iPad is that I can plug in one cable and that will charge, mirror to external monitor, power my audio-interface and other peripherals.
As iPadOS matured, my workflow has transitioned from the Mac to the iPad and I actually quite enjoy it! Even if it means that I will see black sidebars on a 16:9 external monitor. The beauty of the iPad is that it is clutter free and when you do work, you have either one or two apps open at once. If you need a third app, you can also do that with the slide-over/iPhone-style layout.
I’m a final year engineering student and also a hobbyist programmer. Swift Playgrounds, Blink Shell, Working Copy, all feel spectacular on the iPad and I just wish us A-series iPad owners could get the functionality that the M1 folks get.
But in saying this, I am truly happy with what my iPad Air 4 can do. It is so fast and fluid and it only has 4 GB of RAM!
With iPadOS 16, you shouldn’t expect if you are on a non-M1 iPad. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice update but it’s held back with the number of devices that get the actual new features. I have hope that one-day we’ll see some form of external monitor support for us non-M1 iPad owners.