A few weeks ago I suggested that the killer feature missing from the iPad is multitasking. For owners who have jailbroken their iPads, such a feature is now available.
Multitasking is brought to the iPad thanks to an application called Quasar, from BigBoss developer Pedro Franceschi. Quasar is a windows manager that allows standard iOS apps to be run in separate windows on the iPad. These windows can be moved about the screen, resized and manipulated in all the ways that you might interact with applications on a Windows or Mac system.
Quasar is fully integrated with the iOS Notification Center, which means that clicking on notifications will open the app in a window. It will also automatically open App Store, YouTube, and web links in the appropriate windowed app.
Quasar is also optimized to run iPhone apps on the iPad at the correct resolution.
For anyone who wonders whether the iPad has enough processing power to handle multitasking, this video should answer that question. In fact, even the first-generation iPad has enough horsepower to multitask applications.
The multitasking effects appear smooth and responsive, with no lag or visual artefacts visible on screen. The iPad's hardware is clearly up to the task, meaning this omission is a limitation of iOS platform and not of the iPad itself.
Be warned that there do seem to be a few bugs in the application. For example, moving a window off the screen causes the app to be annoyingly chopped in half. Bugs are to be expected given that this is a first release, and the developer has promised fixes.
The only drawback to this app is that it requires a jailbroken iPad. If you're running a device with iOS 5 or earlier then this isn't going to be a problem. For those on iOS 5.1 -- which includes all iPad 3 owners -- things look bleak. The only jailbreak available for this iOS release is untethered -- which means that if you reboot your device you will need to connect it to a computer to reinstate the jailbreak -- and only works for a limited selection of hardware.
This app is the single best reason I can think of to jailbreak your iPad.
Quasar is available from the Cydia Store and costs $9.99.
If a jailbreak app can bring multitasking to the iPad, It's hard to come up with a compelling reason why Apple can't do the same.
Image credit: BigBoss.