Microsoft’s Surface and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Pro tablets may soon lose a key competitive edge: Apple is reportedly working on side-by-side multitasking for the iPad.
The new feature is being targeted for iOS 8, according to 9to5Mac, and could make its appearance at the company’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference in June. The site references “sources with knowledge of the enhancement in development.”
Currently, the iPad can show only one app on the screen at a time. This full-screen purity was apparently a design decision by Apple to keep things as uncluttered as possible for its ground-breaking tablet, originally targeted as a consumption device.
But as tablets increasingly become productivity tools, the multitasking in Surface, where several apps can be snapped together, and in several Android tablets is making the iPad seem old-fashioned.
Apple’s adoption of the feature, whenever it occurs, can be seen as a key step in the evolution of the iPad product line.
It will not only allow users to do more than one thing at a time — one definition of productivity — but it is also expected to allow users to move content between apps, as well as other kinds of inter-app interaction. In other words, the iPad screen will become a busy space.
The move could also lead to more of a differentiation between differently-sized iPads. The split-screen capability might not be enabled for the iPad Mini, for instance, where its utility would be limited, but might be used in upcoming iPads with larger screens.
Here’s a designer’s concept, released at the end of last year, of how split-screen multitasking might look on the iPad: