The iPad needs more than split-screen support to be as productive as a Microsoft Surface

The iPad needs more than split-screen support to be as productive as a Microsoft Surface

Summary: WWDC takes place next month and as we approach Apple's annual event rumors appear that some advanced multi-tasking support may be coming in iOS 8.

TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, iOS, iPad
The iPad needs more than split-screen support to be as productive as a Microsoft Surface
(Image: Apple)

Earlier today 9to5Mac posted that Apple is planning to provide split-screen support in iOS 8. I would love to see Apple provide such capability since it really is a pain at times to jump back and forth between apps to view or share information.

While the mobile world is full of leaks, I am not inclined to believe this one until I see Apple announce it at WWDC next month. The Verge wrote up an informative article focused on developer support for such capability and while it may be possible it looks to be quite an effort that seems limited to only the larger iPad displays. Apple traditionally likes to have a consistent experience across iOS so having a function specific to just the larger display iPads doesn't seem likely. Then again, there are also rumors of a "professional" iPad with an even large display so we just might see it eventually.

Given the price of an iPad compared to a MacBook Air I would think those who want a productive mobile device with split-screen support would just get an MBA that even has a keyboard for optimal productivity. While tablets can be forced into a work mode, the experience is always a compromise at some level. Recent stats show that tablet growth is declining as people realize tablets are optimized as companion products that can't replace laptops.

I personally use the split-screen functionality on my Surface Pro regularly and find it very useful. However, Windows is designed to be a multi-tasking OS and the experience is quite refined in Windows 8.1. If Apple can implement the split-screen multitasking capability across apps, similar to what Samsung does on the Galaxy Note phones and tablets, then there could be some real value here for iPad users. I know some people who bought Samsung Android tablets because of the multi-screen support so Apple may be looking for ways to keep tablet buyers from jumping to Android.

My daughter recently received her Microsoft Surface 2 and even having split-screen support on an iPad wouldn't be enough for her to give it up. I have an iPad Mini with Retina display and have no desire to use multi-tasking on a screen of that size.

Related reading

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iOS, iPad

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  • The UI elements don't matter to me

    My tablet is the Playbook... and its killer feature, for me, is the ability to totally turn off tombstoning. Apps all stay running like they are the foreground task. Windows and BBX do this, but I don't think anything else does (not Android or iOS at any rate.)

    More useful to me me than Windows 1.0 style tiling.
    • Battery?

      Nice feature but just wondering if you take a battery hit for that?
      • Yes, there is but you can turn it off

        So you can operate like the other OSes. It is nice to toggle when power is easily available, and when you have to go for a while without an easy charge.
        • Useless.

          So, when you could be using a laptop or desktop with far more power, you can use the split screen.
          • I do not understand this comment

            I was talking about the benefits of multi-tasking, and how I consider this more valuable to me than split screen. I do not understand how your comment relates to that discussion.
          • You have a point

            While the ASUS Transformer Book T100 isn't much bigger than the iPad Air, it IS bigger and, therefore, better at suited for splitscreen multitasking. However, the 16:9 aspect ratio the key to the benefits thereof. At 16:9, the screen is barely wide enough to accommodate a word processor and a useful browser window, so I could see where splitscreen wouldn't be as good at 4:3. If there were only a way to use a second monitor; The second monitor and ability to use mouse and keyboard make working on the Transformer Book downright pleasant.
          • re: I do not understand this comment

            I think he means that if split screen means having to have an available power source, then why bother. If there is a power source available then just use a desktop or laptop with far more capability.
    • Windows RT can do that to an extent.

      Once you start it up, the desktop stays on and doesn't tombstone itself unless you close it.

      This means that you could run music on desktop IE and surf the internet in Metro IE.
      • And drink the battery down in no time flat.

        A mobility device is intended for mobility purposes. Trying to turn it into a desktop is, at this time, impractical.
        • The Windows RT desktop is indistinguishable from the ...

          ... full Windows desktop. Aside from not being able to run legacy apps, this is a huge advantage over iOS. Plus, the Surface integrates seamlessly into a full Windows environment. Can say that for iOS with regards to either Windows or Mac OS X.
          M Wagner
          • Not Really...

            Windows RT can't really integrate any better than OS can't run anything x86, so you're pretty much limited to what you can get from the store. Also, since its not Windows Pro, there's no support for things like domains. The Windows desktop is just a joke with RT.
          • Joke? Depends what you want

            I have a Surface RT, and essentially use the desktop for Office, which works brilliantly and allows me to get things done when I am out and about. I really am not interested in getting other desktop applications working on it, which surprised me. I thought I would feel that shortcoming all the time.

            The other thing I like about the RT desktop (and presumably the Pro is the same) is that as it behaves just like any other Win8 app, I can split screen the desktop, meaning I can run a store app in one "window" and the desktop, with multiple applications open (Word, Excel and IE for example) in the other.

            It is essentially a cutdown version of my full desktop machine that I can take with me, which is exactly what I need. Integrating with domains etc. is not needed.

            I also have an iPad and, these days, the only things I do on it with any regularity are listen to music, surf the web and play a game or two.

            And that's fine.
          • Not as good as full Windows but...

            Windows RT desktop does work like full Windows. At my company I can take my Surface RT and connect it to our internal WiFi because it will accept my domain\userID credentials. This now allows me to connect to and map network shares, to print to print servers, to RDP into all my corporate systems, etc. And File Explorer on the desktop is still the BEST file browser out there out of all the OSs I have used.

            And the desktop in RT does have RDP so and full IE so you can run multiple RDP sessions and IE sessions and this allows me to pretty much do all my work. Touch in Metro I use mostly just for quick looks and on the move stuff.
            Rann Xeroxx
          • Desktop apps are not legacy apps

            and Microsoft never uses this language to refer to them.
        • Do you have a Surface RT (2)?

          Running a single IE page on, say, Pandora will not drain the battery significantly.
          Rann Xeroxx
        • Well.. here's the thing.... you can speculate or you can test...

          The iPad Air gets around 10 hours of continuous use depending on what you're doing with it.

          The Dell Venue Pro, with full Windows 8.1... runs around 8.5 in typical use, or if you run Netflix continuously, 7.5.

          So yes, a full on multitasking system running desktop applications does burn more juice - well, if you forget that the Dell is an 8" tablet, not a 9.7" one and so has a smaller battery.

          On the other hand, you can run real applications, not 'apps' (although you can do that too). You can install full Photoshop.. or Visual Studio.. and actually get work done with it.

          So... 85% battery life compared to the iPad Air for 200% the functionality?

          Well, if you can't do the math... you probably should own an iPad... you don't really have a need for anything more powerful.
      • iOS allows listening to music while working

        It's been that way since the iPod Touch.
    • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition can

      Please check the demo at
    • Reality is

      The iPad gestures actually make split screen look retarded. You can flick back and forth between Apps and that's plenty enough to Multitask with...

      The whole UI functions a lot like Mavericks and that's honestly significantly superior to many of the features on Windows 8.x.
    • PB FTW

      Still have yet to find multitasking outside of W8 that matches the ease of use as PBOS. Still rocking mine!