Many of the remaining limitations of iPadOS are well documented. There’s no user account system for multiple users. We don’t have true extended monitor support. Multitasking has its rough edges. File management isn’t as powerful as many would like it to be. There are others, as well. Apple has been addressing such things, but it’s a slow process that wears on many fans of the platform.
A few days ago, we learned of another limitation that’s been hidden in the background, but is definitely holding the iPad Pro hardware back from reaching its true potential.
It turns out that iPadOS will not let a single app use more than 5GB of RAM. Evidently this limitation is a holdover from iPad, iPad Air and iPad Mini models that have only 6 GB of RAM. Unfortunately, even though the latest iPad Pros have 8 GB for the models with less storage and 16 GB for the 1 TB and 2 TB memory tiers. Apple hasn’t optimized for it yet.
The news of this limitation came courtesy of Procreate’s Forums, from a user there called Lucky Clan. It’s no accident that such a thing would be discovered in relation to a professional level app like Procreate. These are the kinds of apps that the iPad Pro was supposedly created for and that actually push the heavyweight hardware to its limits. That also makes it pretty ironic that iPadOS hasn’t yet been optimized to allow such apps to take full advantage of what the iPad Pro offers.
All that said, the additional memory in the new iPad Pros doesn’t completely go to waste. In my testing, I have seen how it allows more apps to stay loaded in memory and more tabs to remain active in the browser. The extra memory definitely helps in multitasking. It just doesn’t allow single high-end apps to use more than they have before.
Hopefully this becomes a moot point in a little over a week at WWDC. Considering that the iPad’s Pro’s memory was just expanded across the entire lineup a few weeks ago, I don’t think Apple is going to miss a chance to turn that potential loose and give devs more rope to play with in iPadOS 15. If I’m right, this should give pro apps more flexibility to add additional features and push the envelop of what’s possible on an Apple tablet.
Hopefully Apple will pay special attention to the 1 TB and 2 TB iPad Pro models that come with 16 GB of RAM. While the memory use per app is currently capped at a specific amount, it seems to me like it would be a better idea for them to move RAM per app to a percentage of available memory going forward. This would give individual apps access to a lot more memory on the beefier models without developers having to do anything specific to enable it.
If I were a betting man, I would put pretty good odds on this enhanced memory access being announced at WWDC and being included in iPadOS 15. If Apple wants to developers to take full advantage of this powerful hardware, they have to take the parking brake off. When it comes to running supercharged pro apps on iPad Pros, that’s exactly what this memory limitation is.