This is Apple's best explanation of Stage Manager's limitations on M1 models of the iPad

A major update to iPadOS 16 announced by Apple is the Stage Manager feature, which is supposed to boost multitasking enhancements. Currently, these new multitasking features are only available on the M1 iPad Pro and iPad Air, which is disappointing for some iPad users.

What is the reason for this? Apple has offered some explanations... Stage Manager and better support for external displays are the two major upgrades to multitasking in iPadOS 16. This is what Stage Manager on iPad Air and iPad Pro allow you to do:

Support for iPadOS 16 external displays in 6K resolution is available with a desktop-optimized interface, utilizing Stage Manager again. Unfortunately, Stage Manager and external display support are only available for iPad Air and iPad Pro with M1 chips. These features are not available on any iPad Air or iPad Pro models from previous generations.

In response to a question from DigitalTrends, Apple explained that this limitation stems from the new memory swap feature in iPadOS 16. The memory swap in iPadOS 16 expands the RAM available to the system to the extent supported by your iPad's onboard storage, as Apple announced at WWDC.

The iPad Air base model has 64GB of storage, so it does not support memory swapping, but I can still use Stage Manager and external displays. 256GB iPad Air 4's memory can be swapped, but Stage Manager and external displays aren't supported.

With the M1 iPad Air 5, iPad Pro, and iPad mini 4 each offering 8GB of RAM (up to 16GB in higher storage tiers), the difference is clear between 4GB of RAM and 8GB of RAM. It would seem that the iPad Air 4 could use Stage Manager if it could tap into a memory swap.

This could change before iPadOS 16 is released to the public in the fall since it is still in developer beta. It's a confusing situation in the meantime, especially if the iPad Air 5 does not support memory swap, as Apple states on its website today.

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