Image: Mashable, Christina Ascani
iOS 8 for iPad will reportedly bring better multitasking via a split-plane view.
The rumor comes from 9to5Mac, citing "sources with knowledge of the enhancement in development." It would let iPad users interact with two applications at once, side by side.
9to5Mac says the feature would work exclusively in landscape mode and says it is unclear if the feature would work on the iPad mini or be reserved for the iPad Air and rumored larger-screened iPad.
With few exceptions, mobile platforms for tablets and phones still struggle with desktop-style multitasking. Although all major operating systems allow more than one application to run at once, accessing more than one app at a time is still a struggle.
One notable standout is Microsoft. On the Surface devices, two applications can run side-by-side. Users can also "snap" apps to their screen for persistent access.
Microsoft has highlighted this difference in its marketing materials for the Surface 2.
Right now, users can access only one iOS app on a screen at once. Part of the ethos of iOS is to focus on one task at a time. Most of the time, this works well. The problem, especially on the iPad, is when a user needs to access another file from another application or wants to do several things at once — such as recording a video while taking notes.
On Android, the situation is better — but it's still limited. Android lacks official support for Windows 8-style multitasking, although some manufacturers — such as Samsung — have made it possible to interact with two apps at once in its products. The problem is that these solutions are limited and only select apps work.
Android's Intents framework and its support for widgets makes the multi-app situation better than it is on iOS, but it still creates a disconnect from what a user can do on a tablet versus a laptop.
And while few would argue that a tablet and laptop should function and support the same things, that doesn't mean the tablet ecosystem can't evolve.
We're now four years into the so-called Post PC era, and many people use tablets for consumption and creation. A number of my friends have shifted to iPad-only or iPad-primary workflows. As a power user, I can't do that.
The addition of two-pane multitasking wouldn't mean I could suddenly give up my MacBook Air for a tablet. It would, however, mean I could take notes while viewing an online presentation without having to use my phone or laptop as an input device.
9to5Mac says this feature might even be pushed back to iOS 8.1 or canceled altogether, but keep in mind that this isn't confirmed. With just a little more than two weeks until WWDC, the Apple rumor mill is in full force.
Still, it provides some interesting food for thought. If implemented the right way, it's a feature I would definitely use. Would you?
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