Apple’s “top configuration” function is decentralized, and pre-stage scheduling is no longer limited to M-chip iPads

Up to now, iPadOS 16 is still in the state of beta testing. The new functions and features demonstrated at WWDC, as well as the hardware-level threshold set by the Apple software team "for experience", have made iPadOS 16 an unprecedented degree of discussion.

In our experience, the "pre-stage scheduling" function has greatly released the productivity of the iPad Pro (or even the M1 iPad Air), and the ability to expand an external display makes it more like a PC in the traditional sense.

The positioning of the iPad is also getting closer and closer to what Apple calls "your next computer".

However, the "front-stage scheduling" function is not a feature of iPadOS 16, but more like a "chip"-level function, which is limited to M1 iPad, including iPad Pro and iPad Air.

The once all-powerful iPad Pro 2018/2020 is excluded, which also means that within a few years, they have been strategically abandoned in terms of functionality, which also means that they have become "obsolete" products.

▲ Picture from: itopnews

Many technology practitioners questioned the simple and crude "one size fits all" distinction, believing that "front-end scheduling" would not eat up too much performance or memory, while ordinary users denounced that Apple was forcing them to replace their devices.

▲ Small print on the official website: The pre-stage scheduling function is limited to iPads with M chips

In the face of objections, Apple did not respond publicly, but continued to adjust iPadOS 16. After several months of adjustment, Apple finally found a compromise solution, which can also be said to be soft.

The "front-of-stage scheduling" function has finally been devolved

In the fourth developer beta version of the latest iPadOS 16.1, Apple devolved the "pre-stage scheduling" function to iPads with non-M1 chips.

Specifically, the pre-stage scheduling function adds support for A12Z and A12X chips based on the M1 chip.

▲ iPad Pro 2018 Image from: Ars Technica

However, while the function is decentralised, Apple has also temporarily blocked the function of using "front-end scheduling" on external displays, which has also been a limitation in recent beta versions.

At the same time, Apple also said that the function of the external display will be unlocked for the M-chip iPad in subsequent versions, and the old iPad Pro may not be able to enjoy it.

▲ Picture from: macrumors

Similar to the M chip, the iPad Pro with A12Z and A12X chips can support up to 4 real-time apps or app combinations when using front-end scheduling.

In the MacRumors test, the experience of iPad Pro 2018 and iPad Pro M1 is almost the same, and the switching of background apps is very smooth.

But as mentioned in our experience, the pre-stage scheduling is still not stable enough, and it is easy to crash. Even if you upgrade to iPadOS 16.1, there will still be many problems.

Especially in the case of an external monitor, this function is temporarily blocked in the beta version, giving the Apple software team more time to polish.

The "front-end scheduling" function exists both on iPadOS and macOS. It is part of Apple's process of integrating different platforms in recent years, but the workload and difficulty obviously exceeded expectations.

Previously, "front-end scheduling" was limited to M chips. It seems more plausible to attribute the incompatibility to the M chip platform, rather than performance.

What are the thresholds required for front-end scheduling?

Nowadays, "front-end scheduling" is devolved to A-series chips, and many users expect that iPad mini 6 and iPad Air 4 will have desktop-level productivity together.

In fact, in macOS Ventura, the pre-stage scheduling can support M1, M2 and some Intel chips at the same time.

▲ Left: A12Z, right: A12X, both have the same structure. Picture from: TechInsights

It is worth noting that the two chips A12Z and A12X are two special existences in the A-series chips. They do not use the traditional A-series architecture, but have been redesigned. The CPU uses 4 performance cores and 4 8 cores for energy efficiency, and 8 cores for the GPU (7 for the A12X).

The A-series chips designed for the iPhone are a combination of a 4+2-core CPU and a 5-core GPU. The A12Z (A12X) is relatively closer to the M1 (8-core CPU, 8-core GPU).

▲ Mac mini with built-in A12Z chip Image from: macrumors

And before the M-chip Mac was released, A12Z was used in the SoC of the Mac mini (DTK developer kit) announced at WWDC 2020 for developers to adapt to the macOS of the Arm platform in advance.

From the perspective of core positioning, A12Z and A12X are more like M-series chips. In this way, the adaptation of the iPad Pro 2018/2020 to the pre-stage scheduling is also a smooth sailing.

However, the "front-end scheduling" on the A12Z and A12X chips will not support external display, which may be related to the GPU performance is not as good as the M1.

▲ Does not support extended front-end scheduling, greatly reducing productivity

Apple's animation effects on iPadOS require powerful graphics rendering capabilities, and driving larger screens and resolutions also requires higher-performance GPUs. The A12Z and A12X, which were born four years ago, may be difficult.

In addition, the iPad Air and iPad Pro on the M1 chip platform both have 8GB or more of storage, which is also a threshold for "front-end scheduling" before.

But today, the A12Z and A12X iPad Pros only have 6GB RAM, but from the perspective of the adaptation results, there is no obvious difference to the experience.

When showing "Pre-stage Scheduling" at WWDC 2022, Apple said that iPadOS will use virtual memory technology with the M1 chip to provide up to 16GB of memory for some apps with high performance requirements.

Virtual memory technology is already standard in intelligent systems. It has existed in Linux, Windows and Android for a long time, and has little to do with chip performance.

As long as Apple thinks, virtual memory is like a switch that can be unlocked with code. In other words, the "virtual memory" technology in iPadOS 16 can be extended to all iPads.

"Pre-stage scheduling" is a cross-platform and may be an extremely unique feature in iPadOS 16. From the perspective of Apple's current adaptation process, it requires sufficient performance foundation and has high requirements for GPUs. Ordinary A series chips In Apple's eyes, it may be difficult to do.

Only A12Z, A12X, and M chips with 8-core GPUs can bring a qualified user experience to "front-end scheduling". If you want to use front-end scheduling on an external monitor, M chips are the lowest threshold.

As for the larger memory, it may not be a hard threshold, and in this way, it is difficult to continue to decentralize the front-end scheduling to other iPads with A-series chips.

Apple's service is soft, and the old iPad Pro has another life

After the "pre-stage scheduling" function was devolved, Apple also issued a brief statement, saying that the use of pre-stage scheduling on multiple monitors still requires the support of the M1 chip.

But due to the "loud voice" and "great interest" from users, Apple's software development team found a way to provide single-screen front-of-stage scheduling for these iPad Pros.

We mentioned earlier that scheduling before the bigger screen will make your workflow more efficient, but it can still feel a little cramped when using it only on the iPad.

The front-end scheduling of the iPad Pro 2018/2020 is still a "non-full version", which also seems to be a compromise. Since Apple has not announced in detail the hardware benchmarks required for the pre-launch scheduling function, the above analysis is actually a guess for the current adaptation plan.

Whether the 8-core GPU of A12Z and A12X can realize the dual-screen front-end scheduling function, and what the gap is with M1, only Apple knows the answers to these questions.

It is not unexpected to put a desktop-level chip like M1 into the iPad Pro, and it is reasonable to blur the boundary between iPadOS and macOS, but the final result has caused a disconnect between the two generations of products on the iPadOS 16 major version. , which is extremely rare.

Even now, Apple has brought a single-screen "front-end scheduling" function to the iPad Pro 2018/2020 through "efforts", but because of the chip's shielding of its external display function, it still seems to be hidden.

In recent years, the Mac product line has shifted from x86 to Arm architecture, with Intel and M chips co-existing. In some functions, chip exclusives have appeared.

In the iPad product line, there has also been a similar camp switch, resulting in the distinction between performance and function is also reasonable.

It's just the problem with the front-end scheduling function of iPadOS 16. For Apple, which is good at software design and interaction, it should have done better, rather than backstab old users. After being criticized, it will make up for it.

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