The rumored split-screen support for iPads is nearly here says 9to5 Mac's Mark Gurman's sources.
Running two apps side-by-side was slated for last year's iOS 8 launch -- code snippets were found to support that -- but Gurman says Apple re-prioritized its software efforts and pushed the feature back to iOS 9, expected to debut at the June 8 WorldWide Developer Event keynote.
While subject to change until then, here's what Gurman says to expect:
The latest plans suggest that the split-screen mode will support 1/2, 1/3, and 2/3 views depending on the apps. When split, the screen can either display two different apps side-by-side, or multiple views of the same app. This would enable iPad users to see two separate Safari tabs, or compare a pair of Pages documents at the same time.
Clearly, this approach mimics the multi-window support that keeps laptop and desktop users productive. There's value in it on mobile devices, however.
I found this out when I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 back in 2012. The 5.5-inch screen was one of the largest found on a phone at the time, making it useful for various activities.
It got even better when a software update introduced Samsung's split-screen technology. For the first time, I could browse the web and email simultaneously on a handheld device. The benefit arrived when needing to copy, paste or share information from one app to another; with both applications in view, you don't have to switch back and forth between them.
I've lost track of how many times I've wished for a similar feature on my iPad because it can be such a time saver. I wonder if my iPad will work with the feature though.
My ZDNet colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes suggested to me that memory requirements will be a potential roadblock here. He's likely right if both apps on the same screen are currently active in memory and not in a static state.
Currently, the only iPad that has 2 GB of memory is the iPad Air 2. I have the prior year's model with only half the RAM. So while I'm hoping to see this feature arrive in iOS 9, I'm not sure I'll be able to use with the hardware I currently have. Sadly all of the current iPad Mini models top out with 1 GB of memory too.
This is one time, I'm hoping to be wrong. In early June if split-screen functionality arrives in iOS 9, I don't want to have to buy a new iPad to get it.
Then again, Gurman's sources tell him that larger iPad prototypes -- that iPad Pro we've been hearing about for a while -- is under test. The bigger the screen, the more information you can work with in multiple apps, so maybe I should start saving up for a new tablet now.