One of the most exciting – and subsequently, disappointing – details that we’d heard in the run up to last week’s WWDC was that Apple would bring split-screen multitasking to the iPad with the latest update to its mobile operating system, the soon-to-be-released iOS 8. The announcement of that feature was dropped shortly the start of WWDC, meaning that iPad users would have to wait longer to use their tablets as the productivity machines of their dreams.
A post on BGR points the way back to the Twitter account of software developer Steven Troughton-Smith, who had this to say about his experience with a beta version of iOS 8 after it was released for developers last week:
So… just in case there was any doubt left… iOS 8’s SpringBoard has code to run two apps side-by-side. 1/4 size, 1/2 size, or 3/4 size
— Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) June 9, 2014
For those who might be a bit confused by the terminology, the “SpringBoard” he’s referring to basically means the iOS launcher or home screen. In short, there’s code inside of iOS 8 that could allow developers to let their apps be launched and take up less screen real estate.
So now that app developers are getting the chance to play around with iOS 8, it stands to reason that the feature may still be announced within the next few months. The updated mobile OS won’t be available to consumers until later this fall, right around the time when most people expect Apple to announce the iPhone 6. Apple did announce “Hand-Off,” a new feature that allows Apple’s operating systems to sense other devices and pick up where one left off.
If you’re writing an email on your iPhone and want to open up your iPad to continue the message – but maybe you need to reference another file on your iPad – it would make sense to be able to open up an iPhone-scaled Mail window while you check out your Word document or photo in another app on the same screen.
Overall, split-screen multitasking is too good a feature for Apple to keep buried for too long. Let’s hope that the company feels confident enough to formally announce it later this year. Please…don’t make us wait any longer than that.