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WebKit update hints at major iPadOS 16 multitasking update

Ipados 15 Multitasking Menu
Ipados 15 Multitasking Menu (Image credit: Adam Oram / iMore)

What you need to know

  • A previously leaked iPadOS 16 upgrade may have just been leaked.
  • A reference to a new multitasking mode with freely-resizable windows has been uncovered in Apple's WebKit.
  • It could completely change the way we use multiple windows and apps on iPad.

A new iPadOS upgrade that was previously rumored as an upgrade may have just been spotted in Apple's WebKit code.

As noted by developer Steve Troughton-Smith:

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Troughton-Smith notes:

I know better than to get excited about improvements to iPad because we've been burned so many times… But WebKit just added infrastructure for a 'multitasking mode' on iOS that sure looks like it's a system toggle that enables freely-resizable windows

According to the code, multitasking mode can be changed at runtime, letting apps transition in and out of it, Troughton-Smith compares its to Windows 10's tablet mode.

While Troughton-Smith is right to be cautious about major iPadOS upgrades (they are rare), earlier this year a similar system internally dubbed "Apple Mixer" was leaked online. The feature would purportedly involve automatically shrinking windows when a keyboard and mouse were connected, and fully resizable windows:

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The leak comes from a less reliable source than conventional inside Apple information but seems to line up with this latest WebKit discovery.

Users have been crying out for more advancements in iPadOS, now that the hardware of devices like the M1 iPad Pro (2021) and even the iPad Air eclipse the capabilities of the software they run thanks to Apple silicon.

As Troughton-Smith notes this upgrade could pave the way for a "new direction" for the iPad including all-new form factors, larger iPads, iPadOS laptops, desktops, and even external monitors in future. In the meantime, it could at least mean a more intuitive multitasking experience on the iPad and a chance to tap into the currently-underused power of the iPad.

Apple will unveil iPadOS 16 on June 6 at its WWDC 2022 keynote. Given the proximity of this update to WWDC, it seems plausible this feature (whatever it turns out to be) might well be unveiled at the conference in June and be featured in iOS 16. There is also the possibility that this a feature that gets announced but not included in initial releases like Universal Control.

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.