Talking tech since 2003

A new report today claims that Apple’s forthcoming update to its mobile operating system, iOS 8, will introduce multitasking for the first time. If true, this could be a major boon to those looking to get work done on the iPad.

A post on 9to5Mac cites “sources with knowledge of the enhancement,” who have apparently said that iOS 8 will allow users to pull up and run two iPad apps at one time. So, for instance, I’d be able to much more easily write this post on my iPad by looking at the web browser on one side of the screen, and my word processor on another – which is exactly what I’m doing on my Windows 7 laptop.

It’s a pretty standard trick that computers have been pulling off for a very long time, but mobile devices running iOS and Android have focused on keeping one app on-screen at a time. Giving iOS 8 multitasking powers could be a pretty huge game-changer.

The post also says that not only will two apps run simultaneously on the same screen, but that apps will be able to interact with less friction. “For example,” says the post, “a user may be able to drag content, such as text, video, or images, from one app to another.” The post adds that the standard-sized iPad seems to be the main target for this feature, leaving it unclear whether or not the iPad Mini will also benefit from the iOS 8 update. Moreover, the post mentions rumors that Apple is also working on an even bigger iPad, another sign that it’s pushing the device line as a full-on replacement for the computer.

For a long while, Microsoft has touted its products’ abilities to allow users to multitask. Having more than one program running in the same visual space is a great way to get lots of work done, and it’s one of the reasons that Windows devices are known as being good for productivity. If Apple actually follows through with adding the multitasking feature to iPads, it’ll be harder for Microsoft to sell its vision of productivity to the average user. After all, most folks who use computers these days don’t do much more than email, web browsing, and word processing. Now that Office is on the iPad – and if the iPad gets multitasking – why would anyone bother with a Windows machine?

Then, of course, there’s Microsoft’s upcoming Surface event on May 20, at which we expect to hear of a few new Surface models being revealed. It seems that both Microsoft and Apple are really getting back to their competitive roots. And when corporations fight it out, consumers win. Hopefully Apple will reveal this multitasking feature for sure at their upcoming WWDC event in June. Stay tuned.

[Source: 9to5Mac, concept image by Sam Beckett]

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