Apple: The iPad is falling behind the competition in one area

Apple: The iPad is falling behind the competition in one area

Summary: The iPad is still enjoying good sales, but the competition has left it behind with the ability to display more than one app at a time.


Apple's iPad competitors have been regularly trying to best the top seller in a number of areas. One of those has the potential to knock the iPad off its pedestal, and Apple better be thinking of a way to bring similar functionality to its tablet.

Note 10 Multi view
Multi-view on Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. (Image: Screenshot by James Kendrick)

The feature that has the iPad beat is the ability to display at least two apps on the screen at the same time. In Windows 8, this is called snap view, and on Samsung Android tablets, it is multi-view. Both of these features let the user put one app alongside another at the same time to provide increased utility to the user.

This may not be easy for Apple with the iOS design of running one app at a time. There are strictly controlled exceptions to this rule, primarily to allow audio to play in the background while other apps are running onscreen. That's sorely lacking compared to the functionality in Windows 8 and on Samsung Android devices.

While the Windows snap view is pretty handy, I find Samsung's Android implementation to be more useful. This is largely due to the ability to resize either of the two app panes in any way that best fits. Windows restricts one app pane to be narrow and the other to take the rest of the screen.

Note 2 multi view
Multi-view on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 phone. (Image: Screenshot by James Kendrick)

Samsung first brought multi-view to its phone line, and then spread it to its Android tablets. I have used it heavily on both the Note 2 phone and the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. It positively rocks on the tablet, with enough screen real estate to make this a highly useful feature.

It's so good, I rarely use the Note 10.1 without having two apps onscreen with multi-view. It's not uncommon for me to have email on a narrow pane on the left, with another app, perhaps the web browser, in a larger pane on the right. Or I may have a Twitter app (Tweetings is my favorite) on the left, and the browser on the right. This is especially useful for tapping hyperlinks in tweets and having them open in the browser on the right.

I do similar things on Windows 8 with good results.

Cascaded windows Note 10
Four windows open at once on Galaxy Note 10.1. (Image: Screenshot by James Kendrick)

Samsung has also included the ability to cascade multiple app windows on the screen, so more than two apps at a time can be running and displayed. This can come in handy, as any app window can be selected and resized as desired. The windows can be positioned anywhere on the screen, so it's possible to have several apps displayed next to each other for those times when this makes sense.

The single app nature of iOS will no doubt make this functionality difficult to implement, but Apple better be working on this. As more consumers see that this is possible on other platforms, and the OEMs should be all over the advertising to let them know, they are going to ask themselves: Why can't they do it on the iPad?

Like any company in a competitive market, Apple needs to be moving the iPad forward in features and functionality. That means the ability to run and display multiple apps at the same time in this writer's opinion. While I have been known to state in the past that I like single app focus, and that's still true for intense work sessions, having used multi-view a lot, I have changed my view on how useful it can be at other times.

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Topics: Mobility, Android, Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Tablets, Windows 8

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  • James

    So, mentioning Surface (or any Win8 device) in this Article would have killed you? Huh?
    • Umm, I mentioned Windows

      Why should I mention Surface when I use another Windows tablet. Which I didn't name either as the article was primarily about Samsung's Android.
      • just to let you know...

        ... I am sending this message from one of the panes of my Surface, while I ma viewing PDF file on the other pane.
      • Maybe because you said One Area

        You would have to leave Surface Pro out of this article because the Surface Pro is superior to iPad in so many areas.
        • It costs 2 times more

          I suppose that's normal...
          • Because it's not a tablet

            Surface Pro costs twice as much because it's not a little tablet with an ARM processor. It's a full-fledged laptop with an Intel Core i5 processor and a full-fledged version of Windows.

            Surface Pro is in competition with the MacBook Air, not the iPad.

            Surface RT is in competition with iPad. It has a windowing desktop, but it limits you to running a handful of Microsoft apps (like Office, calculator, notepad) on the desktop and everything else has to run tablet style with the 1-up/2-up options.

            If they'd add the functionality to it that Stardock's ModernMix application brings to Windows 8 (lets you run multiple Windows 8 tablet-style apps windowed on the desktop), it would just kick the crap out of Android or iOS.
            Greg Bulmash
          • They are different beasts

            One is probably part of the new wave of computing devices, the other tries to push desktops PC into tablet arena... In the end like you said surface pro is just like a macbook air.
          • Re: Surface Pro is in competition with the MacBook Air

            Only in someone's wildest dreams.

            Surface Pro is a device in it's own category, one that the market is not really looking for (yet?).

            Do you honestly believe that if windowing on a tablet made any sense, Apple would not do it? They have gone to great lengths to remove that functionality from their OS X UI APIs for iOS. A tablet is much more useful without the "desktop" metaphor.
          • Unfortunetely for Apple

            It does make sense. Then again, I suppose it only make sense for people that want to use their tablets for more than Facebook & YouTube.
          • iPad's solution is more intuitive...

            ...but not widely known (to its detriment.) Full screen for both apps. 4-finger swipe left/right to switch. Gives both full use of the window, and does not get in the way of your thought process unlike hitting the home button and selecting the other.

            FWIW, I don't hit home twice to bring up the app list. 4-figure swipe up...
          • Nice. I did not know that.

            Thanks for teaching me something new.
          • Good point

            I think a lot of bloggers aren't even aware of all the capabilities and features of the iPad. Perhaps that's why we keep hearing about things the iPad can't do which most of us are ALREADY doing.
          • @BillDem

            and what are these things that you can do that bloggers say cannot be done? Please be sure to link to the blogs that say "the iPad will not..."

            Note that switching between two apps is NOT the same as seeing two apps running side-by-side, so this article does not qualify.
          • That's not the same thing

            Android tablets do that as well. What you're talking about is just a short cut to access the task switcher.

            The issue is viewing and working on two apps at once.
          • Not the Answer

            Swiping disturbs your train of thought just as much. Look at what James gave as examples - email open while browsing (or even better, email open while taking notes, or browser open while taking notes). Swiping back and forth is no where near as efficient.
          • Re: Surface Pro is in competition with the MacBook Air

            >Only in someone's wildest dreams.

            you do realise Surface Pro is a full Windows laptop?
          • Agree

            From the point of view of current Android and iOS tablet users, Surface Pro is an Ultrabook. The Surface RT is closer to a true tablet. Only people who've never owned a tablet would view Surface Pro as a tablet.

            I personally believe Apple is working on an iOS-based device similar to a MacBook Air, but with a touch screen and full iPad compatibility.
          • The use case does sound silly

            So why would I want a pdf taking up half my screen as I try to write for this article? I can see there may be some cases where this would work, but having a separate pdf open while you comment on this seems like a weird waste of space.
          • styli

            Compare usefulness of touch screens. Pro with Wacom with 1024 levels of sensitivity. Air - no stylus, no touch screen even. Jobs insistence that no styli would ever be allowed means the people with big flat fingertips don't buy iDevices with touch screens, like iPads.
          • I think you miss the point; a big point.

            The surface pro is both; Its a desktop/laptop if you want it, and it's a tablet when you want it. It may be twice the price but it does the job of a laptop and a tablet. That's a pretty strong point to many of us. Take the HP version; leave the keyboard wherever and consider it a full blown PC when it's docked; but have the more mobile tablet when it's undocked.

            I still feel so many folk are missing the point; and so many folk are failing to see the benefits of using the touchscreen in laptop mode. You don't have to use touchscreen, but the option is pretty useful. Would I rather have multiple devices and mess around synching data OR one device. This is a no-brainer!