I didn’t think it would happen this soon. I thought I’d stick to my guns. I thought I’d made such a brilliant point about the presence of the M1 chip in the iPad that I’d never have to go back on my word.

Whoops.

Last week, I ordered an M1 iPad Air. And it’s all iPadOS 16’s fault.

I didn’t get what I dearly wanted for the iPad at this year’s WWDC. There was no significant leap forward for iPadOS, and there wasn’t a single whiff of pro apps. But Apple is making a few strides with its tablet, and the presence of M1-only updates in the next version of iPadOS left me with no choice but to finally get my hands on the latest generation of the hardware.

Don’t worry – I have a plan!

Why I’m late to the M1 iPad game

I won’t re-hash all of my thoughts on the M1 iPad, because if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I think it has been utterly pointless – until now. Possibly.

I have four iPads, which is three too many for any sensible human being. None of them features the M1 chip, and I don’t miss it at all. If you’re interested, those iPads are my 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the brilliant iPad mini 6, an iPad 9, and the fourth-generation iPad Air.

I’m trading the latter for the M1 iPad Air 5, but the rest will remain resolutely in service. The iPad mini is still my default note-taker and content consumption device of choice, the iPad 9 is used constantly for autocue production duties, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro acts as a media and lighting controller for the studio.

This has always been my point about the M1 iPad – I’ve never felt anywhere close to pushing the limits of my current iPads. Even the 2018 iPad Pro feels as fast as the day I bought it.

However, iPadOS 16 is going to change all of this, and it’s about time, too.

What excites me about iPadOS 16

There are two features arriving in iPadOS 16 which excite me.

The first is Stage Manager, which is an entirely new way of multitasking on Apple’s tablet. It shares the same user interface found in the feature of the same name on macOS Ventura, but, for some reason, the iPad version is of far more interest to me.

I’ve noted plenty of times in the past that I don’t like the way Apple has implemented multitasking in iPadOS thus far. It feels tacked-on, clumsy, and, worse, completely undiscoverable. In fact, I get the impression that Apple would really rather it not be an option – that’s how useless it is.

Adding Stage Manager to iPadOS 16 in what is practically a replica of the Mac version, is, therefore, a stroke of genius. It adds consistency to the two platforms and finally delivers proper multi-overlapping-resizeable window management to the iPad. That’s all we wanted, Tim!

The second exciting feature in iPadOS 16 is directly related to Stage Manager and comes in the form of proper external display support. Finally! You simply connect your iPad to a monitor via thunderbolt and gain access to an additional screen, rather than a mirrored version of what you can already see on the iPad.

Combined with Stage Manager, this new form of external display support for the iPad enables you to keep up to eight apps visible at once (four on each display), and drag and drop apps between both screens. If the demos were anything to go by, this could be what finally sways me more wholesomely into the world of iPad productivity.

The plan

My shiny new M1 iPad Air is due for delivery at the end of this month. Pending any shipping delays (of which I’ve already had my fair share during the last 12 months), that means it should arrive just in time for the iPadOS 16 public beta launch in July.

Once that’s available, I’ll be switching some key tasks to the iPad and relying on Stage Manager, external display support, and those tasty updates to the Files app to see how it feels.

The aforementioned tasks will relate mainly to the blogging side of my business, but I get the feeling there’ll be a significant number of administrative jobs I could move from my MacBook Air to the M1 iPad Air, too. We shall see.

Final thought

I’m sure there are plenty of iPad owners who are disappointed by the lack of non-M1 support for features like Stage Manager and the new external display wizardry. And I agree that it’s a tough pill to swallow – particularly if you’ve recently invested considerably in an iPad that doesn’t feature the new chip.

This is what progress often looks like, I’m afraid. Apple is starting to make it very clear indeed that the M-series chips are the future of the iPad. The two aforementioned features will be just the start of what I think will be an increasing tidal wave of M1-specific updates. Basically, it’s only going to get worse if you haven’t got a compatible iPad.

I think we’ll probably see the M1 chip enter the iPad mini next year, and, eventually, it’ll also make its way down to the ‘normal’ Touch ID adorned iPad. The pace of change will therefore continue to ramp up and those pro apps will arrive.

We’re gradually entering a new era for the iPad, and while it will be painful for some, I cannot wait to get my hands on the public beta next month.

Expect plenty of content!