Ever since I final wrote about iPadOS 16, I’ve continued utilizing Stage Supervisor on my iPad Professional. As I wrote in October, I just like the thought behind Stage Supervisor greater than its implementation. Regardless of the flawed design of its multitasking ideas and bugs I nonetheless encounter every day, it’s plain that Stage Supervisor lets me get extra issues accomplished on my iPad by advantage of its concurrent app home windows.
With at this time’s launch of iPadOS 16.2, the thought behind Stage Supervisor achieves the total imaginative and prescient first offered in June, whereas its design and technical implementation stay caught in an unpolished, half-baked state. Which is to say: conceptually, I love that Stage Supervisor in iPadOS 16.2 permits me to increase my iPad to an exterior show and put 4 further home windows on it; I’ve waited years for this characteristic, and it’s lastly right here. Technically talking, nonetheless, the efficiency of this mode leaves rather a lot to be desired, with frequent crashes on my iPad Professional and an oft-confusing design that, I’ll reiterate, wants a rethinking.
Over the previous couple of months, I’ve realized to dwell with Stage Supervisor, settle for its quirks, and use what’s good about it to my benefit. As I not too long ago wrote for Membership MacStories members, I’ve put my cash the place my mouth is: I’ve gone all-in with Stage Supervisor on my iPad Professional and utterly rebuilt my work setup across the M2 iPad Professional and Apple Studio Show, utilizing Common Management to seamlessly management iPadOS from a close-by Mac mini. (You’ll be able to learn the total story right here.) In spite of everything, no different machine in Apple’s ecosystem can effortlessly flip from a pill right into a laptop computer and right into a desktop workstation just like the iPad Professional can.
I’ve been working towards this imaginative and prescient for iPad modularity and contextual computing for the previous a number of years. So now that Stage Supervisor has unlocked the ultimate piece of the puzzle with exterior show integration, how good is it in follow?
And extra importantly: was it definitely worth the wait?
Working with Stage Supervisor on Exterior Shows
In contrast to the “fundamental” model of Stage Supervisor, which was dropped at older iPads after Apple introduced at WWDC that it couldn’t be accomplished on account of technical issues, exterior show help in Stage Supervisor has remained unique to iPad fashions with an M1 SoC and above. Solely the 2021 and 2022 iPad Professionals, plus the M1 iPad Air can run Stage Supervisor on exterior shows with resolutions as much as 6K. Each different iPad that’s in any other case suitable with the “single-screen” model of Stage Supervisor (utilizing 4 home windows directly on the iPad’s show) however doesn’t have an M1 chip or later will proceed to be restricted to fundamental mirroring on exterior shows.
In case your iPad has entry to Stage Supervisor on exterior shows, however you don’t wish to use it, you may all the time disable it in Settings ⇾ Shows by deciding on the linked show and enabling ‘Mirror Show’ as an alternative.
From an iPadOS standpoint, there’s a right away design consideration value mentioning: when an exterior show is linked to the iPad, Stage Supervisor doesn’t create a separate, greater House Display screen like, say, macOS creates a brand new desktop. As an alternative, on the exterior show you’ll get an empty workspace along with your dock the place you may place home windows and swap between app units; it’s not a full House Display screen in that you simply can not place app icons or widgets on it.
To me, this seems like a waste of area. In my new workplace setup, I’ve the iPad Professional propped up on a Good Folio in entrance of the Studio Show, which I VESA-mounted to the wall. After I’m doing one thing on the iPad’s show (maybe as a result of I’m utilizing an app that works higher with contact enter) and there aren’t any home windows on the exterior show, that area is simply…there, serving no function aside from ready for app home windows to be dropped in. In future updates to iPadOS, I hope Apple will unlock the flexibility to put widgets and icons completely on exterior shows even once they don’t have any energetic home windows.
The worst offender with regards to losing area on exterior shows, nonetheless, is the current apps strip. That UI aspect, as we all know, is affected by dozens of design and technical points that make it a subpar app launcher. In iPadOS 16.2, not one of the complaints I had in regards to the strip have been addressed by Apple (you continue to can’t right-click window thumbnails to see a menu with multitasking choices and multi-window administration is simply too complicated, for example). Even worse, on an exterior show you’ll be restricted to 5 thumbnails for app units regardless of the extra area. Within the screenshot under, you may see how, despite the empty area round it, the strip doesn’t present me greater than 5 thumbnails for my workspaces.
The truth that Apple hasn’t addressed any of the core complaints I had relating to Stage Supervisor goes past the strip and is true for your complete characteristic. This means the corporate finds Stage Supervisor ok as it’s. There are nonetheless no Shortcuts actions to maneuver, mix, or resize home windows; even on a big exterior show, Stage Supervisor nonetheless stubbornly insists on repositioning home windows in your behalf; you’ll nonetheless come throughout bizarre keyboard bugs which might be associated to how app builders can’t know whether or not their home windows are operating in Stage Supervisor or not. And whereas, over the previous two months, I seen that Stage Supervisor stopped crashing on my iPad Professional whereas in “single-screen” mode, I’m afraid to report that, a minimum of as soon as a day, Stage Supervisor crashes once I’m working with the Studio Show linked to my iPad.
To sum up: the whole lot that I wrote in October about Stage Supervisor’s design and underlying flaws nonetheless applies at this time, however I’ve to maintain utilizing it if I wish to be extra productive with my iPad Professional. If I wish to work with greater than two home windows on my iPad, I don’t have every other choice.
The one particular side of exterior show integration value calling out is how transferring home windows between screens and launching apps from totally different shows works in iPadOS 16.2.
To maneuver a window from the iPad to an exterior show, you may both use the multitasking menu and the ‘Transfer to Show’ button, use drag and drop to seize it by its “title bar” (which remains to be too troublesome to seize) and transfer it there, or hit the brand new keyboard shortcut for ‘Transfer to Different Show’. Of all these strategies, I favor the devoted keyboard shortcut, however any of them works effectively and can put the chosen app in a standalone, single-app workspace on the opposite show.
It’s a barely extra difficult story with regards to launching apps and workspaces. For starters – and I’m blissful this has been mounted in time for the discharge of 16.2 – in the event you hit ⌘House, Focus will seem on the show the place the pointer is positioned. For those who set off Highlight on the exterior show and launch an app, the window will open straight on the exterior show; if the window is a part of an current workspace from one other show, your complete workspace with all its home windows will probably be transferred over. So, if in case you have Safari and Notes in a workspace on the iPad, open Highlight on the exterior show, and seek for “Notes”, the entire workspace will reopen on the exterior show.
The identical is true for clicking icons within the dock: primarily based on the instance above, in the event you click on the Notes icon within the dock proven on the exterior show, your complete workspace comprised of Safari and Notes will probably be moved from the iPad to the exterior show.
It takes some time to get used to this mechanism – which is, unsurprisingly, not defined within the iPadOS UI in any respect – however I believe it’s the appropriate name. In designing Stage Supervisor’s multi-screen expertise, Apple has prioritized maintaining workspace integrity over opening particular person apps. In follow, once I’m engaged on my iPad and coping with home windows throughout shows, I discover this conduct helpful because it lets me keep the state of my workspaces and rapidly swap them between screens. I nonetheless would have most popular a ‘Transfer Workspace to Different Show’ context menu within the strip to this thriller UI, however as soon as you know the way it really works, it is smart.
That’s, successfully, all that must be stated in regards to the distinctive elements of exterior show integration with Stage Supervisor in iPadOS 16.2. What we now have at this time remains to be the Stage Supervisor from two months in the past, with a few refinements, and significantly better efficiency for exterior shows in comparison with betas from earlier this 12 months. Though I nonetheless expertise occasional crashes with my Studio Show, the characteristic is, for my part, steady sufficient for on a regular basis utilization now. For those who tried Stage Supervisor on an exterior show in the summertime, discovered it too unreliable, and made up your thoughts to by no means use it, I urge you to strive it once more with iPadOS 16.2.
I’ve been working with Stage Supervisor and its exterior show integration full-time for the previous month; regardless that I may select to run my iPad in traditional Break up View-Slide Over mode and solely use Stage Supervisor on the exterior show, I selected to not. I’ve embraced Stage Supervisor, and as I famous two months in the past, I can’t deny it feels nice when the whole lot works because it’s purported to. Having the ability to have, say, Spring, Messages, and Ivory open on my iPad’s show whereas I’m working with Obsidian, Notes, Safari, and Reminders on the Studio Show for a complete of eight concurrent home windows is terrific. The identical goes for maintaining a music workspace on the iPad whereas searching my RSS feeds in ReadKit on the Studio Show, or watching a YouTube video on the exterior show whereas searching my Mastodon timeline on the iPad.
The bigger floor space of the Studio Show has enabled me to make use of app home windows of their full-size layouts extra usually, which in flip has resulted in quicker interactions with apps and fewer time spent clicking round toolbars or menus.
I don’t love the implementation of Stage Supervisor, however so far as the uncooked potential it unlocks is anxious, the advantages are palpable in iPadOS 16.2. The power to dock an iPad at a desk and watch it spawn a windowed setting on an exterior show additional blurs the road between the ideas of “moveable” and “desktop” in iPadOS – an working system that’s now able to supporting two deeply totally different interplay paradigms that, nonetheless, find yourself being complementary to one another. That’s one thing solely the iPad can do in Apple’s ecosystem at this time, and sure for the foreseeable future too.
In the end, on the finish of 2022, that is the place I stand with my iPad Professional and Stage Supervisor: this characteristic wants a whole lot of work and refinements nonetheless, however as I’m typing this story in Obsidian, I understand I’ve lastly achieved the setup of my desires, which appeared not possible only a few years in the past. My iPad can now be a pill, a laptop-like machine with a Magic Keyboard, or flip an exterior show right into a desktop setting. The identical piece of glass can yield three distinct computing experiences, all powered by the identical OS.
Sure, Apple nonetheless has a whole lot of work to do: I ought to be capable of use Stage Supervisor on an exterior show in clamshell mode as an alternative of getting to see my iPad’s show always; I shouldn’t be pressured into preset sizes for my app home windows; I ought to have the identical flexibility I’ve on macOS with regards to operating shortcuts system-wide with a keyboard shortcut. And that’s to not point out the plethora of visible oddities, technical quirks, and developer issues I lined two months in the past. The trail forward for Stage Supervisor remains to be lengthy and stuffed with many design- and performance-related questions.
And but, flaws however, I take a look at my desk now and I’m blissful: the dream of a modular pc I had years in the past is now a actuality. It’s been a bumpy street to get so far, and Apple’s work has merely simply begun, however I do know this:
It feels nice to name iPadOS my dwelling once more.