Apple recently announced two new features coming to the M1 iPads with the upcoming iPadOS 16 update. This includes the Stage Manager feature as well as the virtual memory swap. However, while all three M1 iPads are getting both features, the base model of the iPad Air 5th generation won’t be getting virtual memory swap.
The virtual memory swap is essentially a page file, a reserved portion of the device storage that can be used as virtual memory when the device runs out of system memory. The virtual memory swap feature in iPadOS 16 can reserve up to 16GB of the storage space to use as system memory if a particularly demanding application requires it.
Due to its memory sensitive nature, Apple has decided to limit this feature to only devices that have at least 128GB of built-in storage. This is not a problem for the two iPad Pro models, both of which come with 128GB base storage. However, the 2022 iPad Air 5 only has 64GB as the base storage, which is why that variant will not be including this feature, and it will only be available on the 256GB variant.
This does, however, contradict Apple’s reason for not including the Stage Manager feature for not being present on non-M1 iPads. Aside from leveraging the increased performance of the M1, Stage Manager also relies on the 8GB memory and the virtual memory swap feature to load and run a bunch of apps at the same time.
With the base iPad Air 5 not including virtual memory swap but still having Stage Manager have caused some to question the need for the M1 to run this feature. Of course, there is still the performance difference between the M1 and the A14 used on the iPad Air 4 but perhaps a more limited version of Stage Manager could have been included on the older iPads.
Of course, as we go further down the iPad range, the processors get slower and the system memory lower, which does bring into question the viability of a feature like Stage Manager on these devices. With Apple prioritizing performance, it makes sense why the older iPads cannot run this feature.
As such, we think it’s fair that the feature is limited to the M1 iPads. It would, however, be interesting to see how the feature works on the base iPad Air 5 compared to the 256GB model or the iPad Pros.