Apple iOS 9 Bringing Side-by-Side Multitasking to the iPad

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Apple has just revealed that it’s making the biggest change to the iPad in many years: it’s adding the ability to display two apps on the screen simultaneously. Side-by-side multitasking is the major new feature for tablet users in iOS 9, which was unveiled this afternoon at Apple’s developer conference.

iOS 9 Slide Over

iOS 9 Slide Over

Users will be able to slide their finger in from the right side of the display to bring in second app into a small section of the screen – a feature that’s called Slide Over. Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering, demonstrated this by bringing in Messages, Notes, Calendar, and Photo apps, while keeping the Safari web browser and later Maps onscreen.

If a video is playing when the user switches to another app, this can jump to a picture-in picture mode. Federighi showed that the window with the playing video can be resized or moved around the screen.

Both of these functions will work with the iPad Air and iPad Air 2, as well as any iPad mini version. However, the third option, Split View, will require an iPad Air 2, as it will require the processor power two apps to run side-by-side, each taking up half the screen.

iOS 9 Split View

iOS 9 Split View

This feature will bring iOS more inline with Windows tablets, which have long had the ability to display multiple running applications. Android doesn’t have this feature, but some Samsung tablets running this OS do.

There have been rumors for over a year that Apple was working to add side-by-side multitasking to iOS. There has also been quite a bit of speculation that this feature is being added because the company is working on a tablet with a 12- or 13-inch display, typically called the iPad Pro, as this is something that greatly benefits tablets with large displays, as well as ones being used for content creation.

QuickType Keyboard Improvements

iOS 9 will bring enhancements to the QuickType on-screen keyboard for iPad users as well. Most notably, tapping on the keyboard with two fingers will enable the user to move the cursor around, with the keyboard area functioning like a trackpad. Apple’s goal is to make it easier for users to select text.

iOS 9 QuickType Keyboard

iOS 9 QuickType Keyboard

In addition, Apple added formatting controls, as well as set of Cut, Copy, and Paste buttons, to this keyboard.

iOS 9 Coming Soon

Apple will introduce an upgrade to iOS 9 to the general public this fall, but didn’t commit to when this will happen. Those eager to get their hands on it can sign up to test preview versions – the first beta will be available in July.

Upgrades to this new version will be released for every iPad and iPad mini model except the very first one that debuted in 2010.

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