iOS 8 is expected to feature the functionality of Apple’s iPad with new Split-Screen Multitasking, according to sources with knowledge of this enhancement in development. These people say that the feature will allow iPad users to run, and interact with, two iPad applications at once. As of now, each iPad application, either developed by Apple or available on the App Store, is only usable individually in a full-screen view.
The ability to use multiple applications simultaneously on a tablet’s display seemingly takes a page out of Microsoft’s playbook. Microsoft’s Surface line of tablets has a popular “snap” multitasking feature that allows customers to snap multiple apps onto the screen for simultaneous usage. The feature is well received in the enterprise and in environments where users need to handle multiple tasks at the same time.
Microsoft has even released an ad comparing multitasking features for the Surface and iPad:
This feature has opened up the door for the Surface to be a true laptop replacement, and will further publicise the iPad as Apple’s vision of the future for mobile computing.
In addition to allowing for two iPad apps to be used at the same time, the feature is also designed to allow for both the apps to interact more easily, according to the sources. For example, a user may be able to drag content, like text, video, or images, from one app to the other. Apple is said to be developing capabilities for developers to be able to design their apps to interact with each other. This functionality could perhaps mean that Apple is finally ready to enable “XPC” support in iOS (or improved inter-app communication), which could mean that developers could design App Store apps that could share content.
Such a split-screen iPad multitasking feature has been requested by iPad fans all over the world, for several years and some designers have even designed sample user-interfaces, unofficial tweaks, and videos for how they would like the feature to function. The feature is reported to be designed with the 9.7-inch iPad display in mind, and it is unclear if the feature will work on the smaller-screened iPad mini. The feature is said to work exclusively in landscape mode. It may also be key to a larger-screened iPad, which Apple is actively developing for a launch either later this year or in 2015.
Besides the few aforementioned new applications, Apple is focusing on speed and performance enhancements as well as user-interface refinements in iOS 8. As one source reported, “think of iOS 8 as being what OS X Mavericks was to OS X last year:” an update with several refinements, a few new apps, and new ways of handling tasks. Apple will officially unwrap iOS 8, as well as a redesigned version of the Mac operating system, at a keynote address on June 2nd at WWDC, and we will provide you with full coverage of the event as well as new information about the announcements as we hear it.