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Posts tagged with "iPadOS 16"

Stage Manager in iPadOS 16: At the Intersection of Bugs, Missing Features, and Flawed Design

Stage Manager in iPadOS 16.1.

Stage Manager in iPadOS 16.1.

This article wasn’t supposed to go like this.

iPadOS 16 is launching to the public today, and it carries a lot of expectations on its shoulders: for the first time since the introduction of the original iPad in 2010, Apple is embracing a Mac-like windowing system that lets you use up to four windows at the same time on the iPad’s screen. You can even resize them and make them overlap. If you’ve been following the evolution of the iPad for a while, you know that’s very unusual.

But the reason this story was meant to be different isn’t to be found in Apple’s design philosophy for iPadOS 16. Typically, MacStories readers would expect a full-blown ‘The MacStories Review’ to go alongside a new version of iPadOS. That’s what I’ve been doing for over seven years at this point, and I don’t like breaking my writing patterns. When something works, I want to keep writing. That’s precisely why I had to stop writing about iPadOS earlier in the summer and until last week.

Stage Manager, the marquee addition to iPadOS that lets you multitask with floating windows, started crashing on my M1 iPad Pro in mid-July and it was only fixed in early October. When I say “crashing”, I mean I couldn’t go for longer than 10 minutes without iPadOS kicking me back to my Lock Screen and resetting my workspaces. And that was only the tip of the iceberg. For nearly two months, I couldn’t type with Apple’s Magic Keyboard or use keyboard shortcuts when Stage Manager was active. Before it was pulled by Apple and delayed to a future release, external display support in Stage Manager was impossible to rely on for production work. The list goes on and on and on.

Normally, I would use the introduction of my iOS and iPadOS reviews to tell you how I’ve been living and working with the new operating system every day for the past three months. I’ve always tried to publish annual OS reviews that are informed by practical, consistent usage of a new operating system which, I hope, has led to highly opinionated, well-researched stories that can stand the test of time. That kind of story hasn’t been possible for me to produce with iPadOS 16 yet.

Effectively, I’ve only been able to sort-of use iPadOS 16 with Stage Manager on my M1 iPad Pro again for the past two weeks. Before that, it’s not that I didn’t want to use iPadOS 16 and Stage Manager because I hate progress; I literally couldn’t unless I was okay with my iPad crashing every 10 minutes. So, at some point over the summer, I made the call to revert to Split View and Slide Over – which are still the iPad’s default multitasking mode in iPadOS 16 – and I’d check back in on Stage Manager on each beta of iPadOS 16. It was only around two weeks ago that, despite some lingering bugs I’ll cover later, I was able to finally leave Stage Manager enabled and go back to where I was when I published my iPadOS 16 first impressions article in July.

Think about my position this way: there’s a hole from early August to early October in my typical “reviewer summer” during which I couldn’t use the biggest addition to iPadOS 16 at all. The fact that Apple delayed, slimmed down, and kept iterating on Stage Manager until the very last minute seems to suggest I wasn’t the only one desperately trying to make it work.

I started using iPadOS 16 and Stage Manager again two weeks ago; what kind of “review” should this be?

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iOS and iPadOS 16.1 Betas Add Per-App Clipboard Access Permissions to the Settings App

In iOS 16 and the upcoming iPadOS 16.1, Apple added an alert when an app tries to read your device’s clipboard, giving users a chance to grant or deny access. It’s a privacy measure, but for apps that have legitimate reasons to use the clipboard’s contents, it quickly becomes an annoyance to confirm every time you want to paste something. Apple has said that excessive prompts to use the clipboard are a bug that it was working to fix, but whatever the origin, the latest beta of iOS and iPadOS 16.1 include new settings that dramatically improve the experience.

After asking for permission to paste from another app at least once, a new setting appears in an app's Settings entry.

After asking for permission to paste from another app at least once, a new setting appears in an app’s Settings entry.

According to Joe Rossignol at MacRumors:

 In the Settings app on the fourth beta of iOS 16.1 and later, a new “Paste from Other Apps” menu appears for apps that have previously asked for permission to paste content from another app. The menu can be found in the Settings app → [App Name] → Paste from Other Apps.

The menu presents users with three options:

  • Ask: The app must continue to request permission to paste content from other apps.
  • Deny: The app cannot paste content from other apps.
  • Allow: The app can paste content from other apps without asking for permission again.
To never see the paste prompt again choose 'Allow.'

To never see the paste prompt again choose ‘Allow.’

This change is a huge win for any app you use and trust that needs clipboard access. For me, that’s Obsidian. We use a custom plugin for creating Markdown links to webpages and images that we shared last fall with Club MacStories members. The plugin works the way I think all text editors should handle Markdown linking when you have a URL on your clipboard: highlight some text, paste, and instead of replacing the highlighted text, the URL is linked to highlighted text. However, since running iOS and iPadOS 16 betas, I’ve had to select ‘Allow Paste’ anytime I wanted to create a Markdown link using the plugin. Now, with ‘Allow’ chosen in the Obsidian entry of the Settings app, that’s no longer a constant source of friction as I write, which is great.

It’s worth noting that the setting doesn’t sync across devices. For example, if you Allow pasting on an iPhone, you’ll have to do the same on an iPad. Also, the setting only appears in the Settings app after an app has requested permission to access the clipboard at least once.

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More iPad Models Will Get Stage Manager, but External Display Support Is Delayed and Will Be M1 iPad-Only

Earlier today, Apple released iPadOS 16.1, developer beta 3, which adds Stage Manager support for 2018 and 2020 12.9” iPad Pros as well as the 11” iPad Pro. However, external display support will remain an M1 iPad-only feature that will be released in a future iPadOS update later this year.

In a statement to Engadget reported by N. Ingraham, Apple said:

We introduced Stage Manager as a whole new way to multitask with overlapping, resizable windows on both the iPad display and a separate external display, with the ability to run up to eight live apps on screen at once. Delivering this multi-display support is only possible with the full power of M1-based iPads. 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.

External display support for Stage Manager on M1 iPads will be available in a software update later this year.

In preliminary testing of the update, our Federico Viticci says that the latest beta also clears up many of the bugs users have experienced:

It’s excellent to hear that Apple is expanding the availability of Stage Manager based on the feedback from iPad users. I’m also glad to hear that iPadOS has stabilized. I’ve been using my iPad Pro more often lately and, like many others, have run into frequent crashes and visual glitches in the iPadOS 16.1 betas. It shouldn’t be too much longer before iPadOS 16.1 is released publicly.

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Apple Confirms iPadOS Update Will Be Released After iOS 16

On the heels of a report earlier this month by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman that Apple would delay the release of iPadOS until October, the company has confirmed that the OS will follow the release of iOS, although it hasn’t said exactly when. In a statement to TechCrunch today, Apple said:

 This is an especially big year for iPadOS. As its own platform with features specifically designed for iPad, we have the flexibility to deliver iPadOS on its own schedule. This Fall, iPadOS will ship after iOS, as version 16.1 in a free software update.

That means version 16.1 will be the first public release of iPadOS, skipping version 16.0 entirely.

The issues with the iPadOS 16 betas, in particular Stage Manager, are well documented. The feature has a lot of promise, but as Federico covered in his iPadOS preview and as we’ve discussed on AppStories, there are still significant bugs and design inconsistencies. Hopefully, the extra development time will allow Apple to ship a more refined version of Stage Manager that delivers on the vision that the company clearly has for the feature.


The 2022 MacStories OS Preview Series: Maps and CarPlay

I recently moved from Illinois to North Carolina, and I don’t know the area at all. As a result, I’ve been using Maps and CarPlay a lot since I got here. The new features coming this fall to each aren’t as extensive as they’ve been in past years, but there are several small changes that represent the kind of incremental, ‘quality of life’ improvements that I expect users will appreciate.

Maps

Because so much of Apple Maps relies on methodically mapping the world bit by bit, many users are stuck waiting for Maps’ underlying data to catch up with the app’s features. The more detailed maps and 3D models of landmarks introduced last year are good examples. Both came with asterisks because they were only available in certain cities or countries at launch.

This year is a little different. Apple announced new countries and cities where you’ll find the company’s more detailed maps, 3D landmarks, and other changes, but this year, multi-stop routes and tweaks to Maps’ routing UI will be available to everyone at the same time. It’s a nice mix of brand-new features and incremental improvements that includes something for everyone.

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A Month with iOS and iPadOS 16: A New iPad Era

iPadOS and iOS 16.

iPadOS and iOS 16.

Sometimes I truly have excellent timing with my stories.

As you may recall, a couple of months ago in the lead-up to WWDC, I published an article on my experience with using the M1 Max MacBook Pro for six months. That story was born out of a desire to get to know macOS again after years of iPad-only work; as I shared at the time, my curiosity was also the byproduct of Apple’s incoherent narrative for iPad power users for the past couple of years. Great hardware held back by lackluster software had long been regarded as the core weakness of the iPad platform; I hadn’t always agreed with the Apple community’s “consensus” on this, but an M1 iPad Pro carrying MacBook Pro-like specs with no new pro software features to take advantage of it was, indeed, a bridge too far. So when I published that story just in time for WWDC, I did it because a) that’s when it was ready and b) I wanted to bring some chaotic energy into the iPad discourse and see what would happen.

Like I said, sometimes I do have excellent timing with my stories. And in this case, not even my wildest expectations could have predicted that, in one fell swoop a week later, Apple would reimagine iPadOS around desktop-class apps and a brand new multitasking with external display integration, a new design, and – the unthinkable – overlapping, resizable windows with iPadOS 16.

Today, Apple is releasing the first public betas of all the operating systems that will launch to the wider public later this year: iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13 Ventura, and watchOS 9. We’re going to have overviews of all these public betas today on MacStories.1 As you can imagine given my annual reviewer responsibilities, I installed both iOS and iPadOS 16 as soon as they became available after the WWDC keynote on my iPhone 13 Pro Max and 12.9” iPad Pro with M1, and I’ve been using them as my daily drivers for the past month.

Obviously, I have some early thoughts and first impressions to share on iPadOS 16: it is fundamentally changing my relationship with the iPad platform and my workflow, which has been untouched for years since the introduction of multiwindow in iPadOS 13. Stage Manager, while still in need of refinements in several areas, is a game-changer for people like me, and it signifies a major course correction on how Apple thinks about iPadOS for power users.

But I should also say that I’m equally intrigued by iOS 16, which marks Apple’s return – after two years – to user customization with a drastic revamp of the Lock Screen, which can now be personalized with widgets, multiple wallpaper sets, and deep integration with the Home Screen, Focus, and even Apple Watch. The new Lock Screen is the proper follow-up to iOS 14 widgets we’ve been waiting for, and it’s going to be the feature that will push millions of people to update their iPhones to iOS 16 right away later this year. Besides the Lock Screen, there are dozens of other quality-of-life improvements to built-in apps and system intelligence that have caught my attention in iOS 16 in the past month, from the welcome updates to Mail and Reminders to system-wide unit conversions based on Live Text, Safari tab groups, and more.

There’s a lot to uncover in iOS and iPadOS 16, and I can’t possibly get into all of it today with this story. All the details and final opinions will have to wait for my annual review in the fall. Instead, below you’ll find a collection of initial thoughts, impressions, and suggestions for aspects of iPadOS and iOS 16 I’d like Apple to improve this summer. As with last year’s preview story, I’m going to include two recap segments at the end of each section with a list of improvements I’d like to see in iPadOS and iOS 16 before the public release.

Let’s dive in.

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Apple Tells The Verge That iPads Will Continue to Work as Home Hubs When iPadOS 16 Is Released

Last week, MacRumors reported that beginning with iPadOS 16, the iPad would no longer be able to serve as a hub for your HomeKit accessories. MacRumors’ story was based on strings found in the iPadOS beta and was picked up by other websites, including The Verge.

However, it seems that’s not quite right. According to Apple spokesperson Catherine Franklin who contacted The Verge, the iPad will retain its current ability to operate as a home hub, but won’t be compatible with the Home app’s upcoming new architecture. That’s a shame, but at least users who rely solely on an iPad as their home hub won’t lose the features they currently have.

Here’s Apple’s full statement made to The Verge:

Alongside these releases, the Home app will introduce a new architecture for an even more efficient and reliable experience. Because iPad will not be supported as a home hub with the new architecture, users who rely on iPad for that purpose do not need to update the Home architecture and can continue enjoying all existing features.

Franklin also said that the upgrade to the Home app’s new architecture will be available in the app’s settings in a later iPadOS 16 update. No details on the new architecture were provided, although, during the WWDC keynote, a presenter mentioned that it is more efficient and reliable, allowing the Home app to handle many more accessories than before.

One aspect of what is going on with the Home app’s mysterious new architecture is undoubtedly the upcoming Matter standard. Matter, which incorporates Thread’s mesh network protocol to improve device connectivity and support over 250 devices at once, is slated to be released this fall. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple is building functionality on top of Matter for HomeKit devices too, but whether that’s the case and what it might entail remains to be seen.

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TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino Interviews Craig Federighi About Stage Manager

Stage Manager is a very different approach to multitasking on the iPad and Mac for different reasons. TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino explored the design choices made by Apple on both platforms in an interview with Craig Federighi, the company’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering.

As Panzarino explains, Stage Manager feels very iPad-centric, but Federighi says it’s the result of the Mac and iPad teams meeting in the middle after developing similar approaches to a more streamlined version of multitasking:

“There were many of us who use the Mac every day who really wanted this kind of focused experience that gave us that balance. So we were on the Mac side, picking this idea up and saying we think that’s in reach, we want to make this happen. And separately on the iPad side we were thinking about [it]. And believe it or not two independent teams who are brainstorming and designing converge on almost the identical idea.”

In response to why Stage Manager is only supported by M1 iPads, Federighi pointed to memory, storage, and graphics as factors:

“It’s only the M1 iPads that combined the high DRAM capacity with very high capacity, high performance NAND that allows our virtual memory swap to be super fast,” Federighi says. “Now that we’re letting you have up to four apps on a panel plus another four – up to eight apps to be instantaneously responsive and have plenty of memory, we just don’t have that ability on the other systems.”

It was not purely the availability of memory that led Apple to limit Stage Manager to M1 iPads though.  

“We also view stage manager as a total experience that involves external display conductivity. And the IO on the M1 supports connectivity that our previous iPads don’t, it can drive 4k, 5k, 6k displays, it can drive them at scaled resolutions. We can’t do that on other iPads.”

There’s no doubt that Stage Manager takes some getting used to, and as Federighi acknowledges in the interview, it’s not finished, but I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen so far. Stage Manager has the potential to make the iPad a more productive device while serving as a bridge for users coming to the Mac from the iPad. That seems to be what Apple is going for, and with some refinements, and although the feature won’t be to everyone’s tastes, I think it could be a great solution for a lot of iPad and Mac users.

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iOS and iPadOS 16: The Tidbits

iOS 16.

iOS 16.

As is always the case when Apple releases the first developer betas of new major versions of iOS and iPadOS, there are hundreds of features that don’t make an appearance in the keynote or aren’t mentioned in Apple’s marketing pages. Very often, those “smaller” features turn out to be some of the most beloved and useful tweaks to the operating systems we use every day. I installed the iOS and iPadOS 16 betas on my devices earlier this week, and I’ve collected some of the most interesting details I’ve spotted so far. Let’s take a look.

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