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How would you change iPad multitasking?

iPad mini multitasking
iPad mini multitasking (Image credit: iMore)

The original iPad ran "iPhone OS", which shows how tightly coupled Apple's tablets have been with their phones. A few multitasking navigation gestures aside, it remained that way until iOS 9 introduced several new features specifically for the iPad. That includes slide over and split view apps, and picture-in-picture video. They're a huge step forward, but also a first step. So what would you like to see changed in iOS 10?

  • More efficient app switcher for slide over and secondary (right) apps.
  • More consistent app switcher for split view and primary (left) apps.
  • Ability to quickly swap apps from primary (left) to secondary (right).
  • Drag-and-drop content between primary (left) and secondary (right) apps.
  • 30/70 split view with narrow primary (left) app.
  • 50/50 split view in portrait mode.
  • Horizontal split view for portrait mode.
  • Multiple instances of same app (i.e. two Safari windows) in split view.
  • Picture-in-picture-style remote view for apps.

I've long wanted iPad to benefit from iPadOS the way Watch and TV benefit from watchOS and tvOS. Multi-app multitasking brings that dream closer to reality, at least for apps if not for Home screen.

The challenge is to do it in such a way that it maintains accessibility and approachability for the mainstream. That adds capability without undue complexity. But iOS 10 (iOS X) is less than a year away, so what do you want from multi-app multitasking?

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

52 Comments
  • If anything it's fine really. I would like to see iPad split screen multitasking on the 6/6S Plus. Sent from the iMore App
  • Same here, when using the iPhone 6 Plus/6 S Plus in landscape why not allow multiyasking. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'd like it horizontally in portrait, I think.
  • Yep. On a phone only horizontal split screen would make sense
  • But how would that work when the OS already has system level sliders for notifications when swiping down from the top and the quick settings when sliding up from the bottom? It makes sense from a screen real estate point of view, but I don't see how it could be implemented.
  • Because Apple decided you dont need it yet. Wait until 2019
  • I don't see Apple bringing this to the Plus phones. They've been very deliberate about not bringing iPad-like functionality to them despite the screen size. I believe they do this to try and prevent people from buying a big phone and forgoing the purchase of an iPad.
  • Splitify is a jailbroken tweak that provides Split View on jailbroken devices even if they don't support it like the 6/6S Plus. To paraphrase, the majority of comments on the tweak are: "I can see why Apple didn't allow it".
  • Bingo!! I tried Medusa when my phone was Jailbroken and it was a bit of a mess. I know Apple can implement it, but I now understand why it was left out. I personally only tried it out for days to see if there was any extra benefit to have 2 apps run on my phone at the same time, but based on those 2 tweaks and multify alone, I learned that I personally don't need to be running 2 apps side-by-side on my phone at least. One thing I would like to add for iOS 10: How about running up to 4 apps side-by-side. While perhaps it may be cluttering, for lack of a better term, on the iPad Mini 4/5(?) and iPad Air 2/3(?), I find it odd that this isn't possible on the iPad Pro with all that space on the screen. That to me, is what true Multitasking is. Just my 2 cents!!
  • Search bar, and alphabetical access to app selection. It really sucks to blindly scroll to find the app you need. Also, a stationary app field at the top for your favorite or most needed apps to open quickly. That would be an amazing efficiency booster.
  • Agree on this and kick it up a notch on the iPad Pro to take advantage of extra space and allow up to 4 floating/resizable windows
  • This is the only thing I really want. The somewhat random order to the list of apps for multitasking and pop-over seems like a remarkably poor interface design coming from Apple.
  • They need to do something... It's pretty basic and tedious now. Maybe it's time for iOS (at least on iPad) should have an 'app drawer' of sorts that could be called for this and be used from the homescreen. Homescreen+dock, swipe-in app drawer/tray/whatever you want to call it. Then, keep the remainder of the homescreen a nice, 'recently used' area to keep apps, documents and maybe even some widgets. Take them away from notification center and put em on the homescreen. Maybe, I don't know... Then again, that's starting to sound a little too much like android or windows...
  • Mind control. Some day.
  • Biggest issue is lack of universal app support.. It's limited really to only apps that support the multitasking. Example is Microsoft supports it in most apps, but not Skype for Business, which as a communication/chat app, that sucks I cannot have that open along with another app. Would like to be able to 'group' apps as defaults, and be able to 3 or 4 finger swipe to switch a single window to another app while keeping the other app up an locked / active. The multi-window setup itself is just fine..
  • One thing that I really want is to be able to open 2 safari tabs side by side. Sidefari is ok, but not the best experience
  • Multiple Safari tabs in Split View is a common request that is a no brainier
  • So ... what I'm hearing is ... "Break the whole iOS system and make it way confusing for everyone else, just so I can browse the internet like it's 1999." At minimum, what you're asking would require multiple instances of Apps on iOS ( a radical step) and completely blurring the line between what an app is, and what a browser window is. In other words, f*cking up the whole OS to make it more like a browser based OS.
  • Or...maybe it's just giving a special permission to Safari.app to utilize additional screen real estate to display a tab that is currently hidden. My guess is that could happen without "breaking the whole OS"
  • It would be nice to have an API for the management of split view. Workflow could have options for configuring which apps are simultaneously viewable in flows. The beauty of providing an API is that it allows developers to brainstorm about the configuration and sequencing of the views.
  • I second some drag and drop type solution, going through all the long-press menus is really only suitable for occasional use. What I would love is a multi-clipboard or clipboard manager. E.g. When doing research, I often copy more than one part of a text or site. Being able to do all the copying first, and all the pasting later, would be a huge time saver and avoid a lot of app swapping.
  • I'd recommend the app Clips for this. It's not the drag-and-drop you want, but still useful for copying multiple items.
  • Thank you for the pointer. This is quite an involved workaround, but it works very well. Plus, I like the possibility to sync between multiple devices – clever.
  • I want an easy way to find my "secondary" app, so I don't have to scroll through a list of apps just to get to the one I want! The current implementation is pretty annoying.
  • I’d like to see feature after feature after feature added until it becomes a bloated, dysfunctional, resource hogging mess. Add everything every nerd twit can think of so no one can use it anymore and it requires infinite maintenance and bogs down the CPU to a halt. Forget about “it just works” and embrace “it does everything.” Make it just like Windows and Android. You people are nuts.
  • Windows and android aren't functional? I'm so thirsty. I really want some kool aid! Sent from the iMore App
  • Personally, I'm most anxious for Apple to update GarageBand (hopefully they'll offer Logic "Express" again, this time for the iPad Pro), plus I'd love to see them make an iOS version of Final Cut.
  • The ability to quickly find a wanted app, not having to scroll endlessly searching for the app i want. Sent from the iMore App
  • lol @ how multitasking is a new feature in 2015 for Apple users
  • There's a reason why your username is "iDontKnowTech"
  • I don't understand why split-screen isn't available on the iPad Air. And don't tell me its because the Air only has 1gb of ram.
  • It's because the Air only has 1 gig of ram. ;)
  • The only 3 devices that officially support Split View all have 2Gb RAM or higher (Air 2, Mini 4, Pro) and are the ONLY iPads with 2Gb RAM or higher, so it seems pretty clear 1Gb RAM has been deemed not enough by Apple. I don't understand why you don't understand that.
  • Yup, add it to the 6s Plus Sent from the iMore App
  • Multiple instances of the same app. I'd love to have 2 1Writer or Notes.app windows open at a time. I do a lot of first and second drafts on my iPad, and right now I have to copy the text from the first draft into a different app to be able to have a 2 drafts open at the same time. Also—love command-tab, but please add tilde to go in reverse order. Works on the Mac and my muscle memory has me typing it 100x a day on the iPad!!
  • 1- a search bar to choose/find the secondary app easier, especially that at first we barely had 10 apps to choose from, now most of the apps I use support multitasking...
    2- the ability to change the primary app the same way we do with the secondary app...
    3- drag and drop between the two app.
    4- same app in both primary and secondary apps (not just safari, notes, pages, numbers, tweetbot, Instagram since it's getting multiple accounts login, and so many other apps that one needs to open on both sides...)
    5- ability to make a secondary app primary without having to close the two apps and start again...
    6- 30/70 not just 50/50 and 70/30!
  • 486
  • In no special order:
    1. Remove the Primary and secondary App concept. Both Apps should behave the same (and the clock and battery meter should remain on their usual locations on the screen).
    2. Both Apps on the left and on the right should be able to be changed from the chooser from the top.
    3. Entering multitasking shouldn't be a two step process. The tab should stop directly where the user wants it.
    4. Should be able to enter multitasking from the left too.
    5. Add the 30/70 configuration that's missing
    6. Change the App chooser to allow: a) to see more Apps, b) to remove Apps that don't make sense in multitasking, c) to sort Apps by last used or manual (fixed) sort, d) search for App field
    7. Two instances of the same App at the same time
    8. Drag and drop data between both sides
    9. Thinner gap between the two Apps
    10. A discreet but obvious way to tell which App is receiving input from the (physical or software) keyboard.
  • Just fix bugs. Mail app keeps asking me to verify my password on one account on the iPad. Got "this accessory may not be compatible"error message when plunged into charger. It was an Apple plug, with an Apple cord that came with the iPad. I would like to see double tapping the screen to work with multi tasking instead of using the home button all the time. May be giving Siri the ability to set up spilt screen. Say you have Safari open. Siri open Evernote in split screen. That would be nice. Sent from the iMore App
  • Four fingers swipe up... Sent from the iMore App
  • I agree the Plus iPhones already support rotation in portrait mode so why not split screen multitasking also? Posted via the iMore App
  • Needs bluetooth mouse support.
  • Uh... no, iOS is designed for touch. Go to the Mac if you want to use a mouse, where the interface is designed for that
  • "Mouse support," on an OS that doesn't have a cursor. I think you miss the point entirely.
  • Not sure if this is a split screen issue, maybe a sandbox issue or something else but I'd love to have it so 1Password can fill logins within the primary window app. At present its a copy and paste job. Also generally have drag and drop between apps.
  • - To be able to resize the two apps to any size, not just 50/50 & 75/25
    - In the secondary app, I'd like to be able to quickly search for the app I want
    - In Slide Over, I'd like to have the option to make the app take half the screen instead of just 1/4th
    - Have a sort of reverse reachability (bringing it up instead of down) for when I'm using the on-screen keyboard and needing to look at a pic in the secondary window Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm basically okay with multi-tasking the way it is, but mostly because I find it only marginally useful in the first place and don't actually use it that much. My only real complaint is the way you choose the apps when you pull the slider over from the right is really clunky, ugly and slow. Scrolling through a list of hundreds of possible selections is just not good UI. We have Apple TV and iTunes for that kind of nonsense, we don't need it in our mobile OS's. Not sure how it could be fixed though.
  • I wouldn't change anything until the more popular iPad Apps fully support what multitasking already does today. For example, Xfinity, ESPN, CNN, and many others, still do NOT support split-screen multitasking nor picture-In-picture video playback. For 95% of us, the iPad is for content consumption and light email so support for these features is paramount (the iPad is not for content creating professionals despite what Rene and Serenity say!). What I would hope Apple is working on is to make changes in iOS that would NOT require most Apps to be re-configured by their publishers to support these new features. It's insane that they have to modify their own Apps when Apple should have added these features without requiring any rewrite from the Apps publishers. The iPad Pro will never be successful in a major way anyways because of iOS limitations but this lack of support by most common Apps for these new multitasking features is sure death to this device. It's very telling that now over 50% of devices in schools are Chromebooks with iPads a distant 3rd or 4th.
  • Btw where do yiu submit to APPLE our ideas/wants for the next IOS? Posting this on your larticle would be nice!
  • I would just like to be able to use it on my ipad 4. I thought iOS wasn't fragmented Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • The reason supposedly is not enough RAM on the older iPads (as well as processors not as fast to overcome this). I suspect that if Apple enabled this on your device, the new features either wouldn't work or the user experience would be terrible. I have an iPad Mini 4 and I even notice the difference between it's 2-core A8 vs the 3-core A8X in the iPad Air 2 (and the A9 in the 6S). Although, knock on wood, yesterday's release of iOS 9.2 appears to have noticeably speeded up my new iPad Mini 4 but we'll see in a few more days when it settles in.
  • Simple, I want the ability to run any app in the background and longer than 10 minutes. It's absolutely ridiculous that I can only download a file for 10 minutes before my browser stops it. As an IT professional I use a terminal a whole lot, I want to be able to login to a remote server and not have the OS kick me out just becasue I decide to run it in the background. I want more support for dual apps, less than 100 apps actually support it now.