iPadOS 16: Stage Manager works without memory swap on the iPad Air 5 as switch for 'Legacy Devices' discovered in beta files
Earlier this week, Craig Federighi explained why Apple had settled on making Stage Manager exclusive to Apple M1 hardware, currently just the iPad Air 5, plus the latest versions of the iPad Pro 11 and the iPad Pro 12.9. Supposedly, Stage Manager requires high DRAM capacity and high-performance NAND that neither the A12Z Bionic, A14 Bionic or A15 Bionic can provide. Similarly, only Apple M1 offers the raw performance that Stage Manager needs.
Subsequently, Federighi informed Forbes that Apple had tested Stage Manager on older iPads. According to David Phelan, Federighi said the following:
We began some of our prototyping involving those systems and it became apparent early on that we couldn't deliver the experience that we were designing toward with them.
It turns out that Apple has left the code to enable Stage Manager for all iPads within iPadOS 16. Discovered by 9to5Mac, Apple has an internal mode for bringing 'Chamois', Stage Manager's codename, to 'Legacy Devices', which is every iPad without Apple M1. In other words, Apple could enable Stage Manager on iPads with A-series SoCs, and iPadOS 16 beta currently contains the capabilities to do so.
Confusingly, the entry-level iPad Air 5 does not support a core feature of Stage Manager, but Apple has enabled the multitasking option anyway. Specifically, the 64 GB SKU cannot utilise virtual memory swap; seemingly, 128 GB is the lowest memory configuration that supports virtual memory swap. On the one hand, this outlier suggests that Apple will upgrade the iPad Air to a minimum at least 128 GB of storage for the 6th generation model. On the other hand, it implies that Stage Manager does not need 'super fast' virtual memory swap to meet Apple's requirements.