Apple

Road warriors: Split-screen multitasking discovered in iOS 8

According to examinations of the iOS 8 beta release, iPad users might be able to run multiple apps simultaneously on a single screen when the new mobile OS is released this fall.

iOS 8 on iPad

An examination of the iOS 8 beta release by developer Steve Stroughton-Smith shows that the system contains code to run multiple apps side-by-side on one screen, apparently in a similar manner as the Snap feature on the Microsoft Surface.

Stroughton-Smith says that apps can be 341px, 512px and 682px in width when in multi-app mode, with 1024px being full-screen (in horizontal mode). Here's a mockup video from December showing what split-screen apps could look like on an iPad:

The possibility of split-screen multitasking on the iPad was first revealed in mid-May by 9to5Mac, with the report saying the feature will allow apps to more directly interact with each other.

"In addition to allowing for two iPad apps to be used at the same time, the feature is designed to allow for apps to more easily interact, according to the sources. For example, a user may be able to drag content, such as text, video, or images, from one app to another. Apple is said to be developing capabilities for developers to be able to design their apps to interact with each other."

With a new feature called Extensibility, Apple has made it much easier for apps to transfer files and view or manipulate content in other apps. A multitasking feature would be a logical extension to that, perhaps providing drag-and-drop capabilities between apps.

For business customers, this would be a massively useful feature. With the release of Microsoft Office on the iPad earlier this year, the ability to work and edit, say, a Word document and a PowerPoint presentation simultaneously would be a boon to road warriors.

It could be even more useful if Apple comes out with a rumored "iPad Pro" — a 12-inch iPad that some believe is currently in development and could appear sometime in 2015. While the 12-inch iPad is only a rumor at this point, Samsung did release a 12.2-inch Galaxy Note Pro tablet recently.

Apple didn't unveil the multi-app feature at WWDC, perhaps because it wasn't quite ready for the public, but the discovery of code to subdivide the screen in shipping software (albeit for developers only) tells us that Apple is at least exploring the possibility of running multiple apps side-by-side.

Is there a feature in iOS 8 that you think would be more useful than split-screen multitasking for business users? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

About Jordan Golson

Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.

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