There was some disappointment among power users when iPadOS 15 was announced because we didn’t get some of the features and apps that many of us were hoping for. I didn’t get the enhanced external display support that I was really hoping to get this year. Others were hoping for things like iPadOS versions of Apple’s pro apps, multi-user support, or even some elements of macOS being ported over. The point is that, while the new features we did get in iPadOS 15 look great, none of us got everything we wanted.
A lot of the disappointments were related to the power of the new M1 iPad Pros, which were released a month ahead of WWDC. The combo of impressive specs and Apple moving to the M1 name for the processor definitely inflated expectations and left many iPad users wanting more.
There is one group of new iPad Pro owners who have been especially vocal in their disappointment with iPadOS 15. Many of the people who bought the 1 TB and 2 TB versions of the iPad Pro did so to get the expanded 16 GB of RAM that comes with both. This setup seemed to be perfectly suited for running pro-level applications, as well as to provide additional headroom for developers to take advantage of in the future.
Unfortunately, after the release of the new iPad Pros, we learned that they were still constrained by an old restriction that limits apps from using more than 5 GB of RAM. This limit is based on the 6 GB that was available in previous two gens of iPad Pro models. Even though all of the 2021 iPad Pros have 8 or 16 GB, third party apps currently have no way to take advantage of it.
When this limitation wasn’t specifically addressed during WWDC, it seemed like Apple might be pushing any potential changes off a while. That felt like an unfortunate miss on their part. Thankfully, that tuned out to not be the case, as Apple has just announced a new public entitlement that will allow developers to request privileged access to RAM. Note that this capability was already part of iOS and iPadOS, but it was a private entitlement that only first party apps and OS system processes could use.
So, this really isn’t a major change to iOS and iPadOS. Apple is simply opening up access to an existing feature to all developers. However, this is still a potentially significant upgrade for power users. It should give developers of pro apps more incentive to improve and expand existing applications, as well as bring new ones to the platform. If this pan out, I think we will see the 1 TB and 2 TB models become the standard for iPad Pro power users in the future.
I’m sure this will be especially good news to those users who have already invested in these iPad Pro models for their 16 GB of RAM. It will take time, but hopefully their promise of more horsepower to run pro apps will be fulfilled now that the reigns are being relaxed a bit.
Apple making this memory allocation entitlement public may not be a major new feature, but it is a small change that shows that they are listening to what users want. They are just a lot slower in delivering than most of us would prefer.