For its mobile OS revision, Apple this year plans to greet customers with a new multi-tasking feature that takes heavy cues from Microsoft’s Windows 8 running on Surface tablets: rocking two apps simultaneously.
According to sources with knowledge of Apple’s plans, iOS 8 is being equipped with “a new split-screen multitasking feature [...] designed to allow for apps to more easily interact [with one another].”
According to 9to5mac’s sources, iPad users will finally be able to drag content like text, video, or images from one app to another, replicating desktop-grade multi-tasking. Or, as some would say, copying Windows. Truth be told, Microsoft took multi-tasking head on while Apple preferred playing it safe for the sake of keeping iOS consistent across devices, battery life, etc.
Apple is even developing ways for programmers to leverage the feature in their apps by enabling “XPC” support (content sharing) in iOS. Currently, the Cupertino giant plans to deploy the split-screen multi-tasking feature on the larger iPads, such as the iPad Air or the fourth-generation iPad. iPad mini support could arrive at a later date.
Also worth noting is that the feature is said to work only in landscape mode, which seems to lend credence to rumors that Apple has a 12-inch iPad upgrade lined up.
Some people have claimed that Apple’s timely feature upgrades on the mobile front coupled with design alignments on the desktop front are clear indications that the iOS and OS X will one day combine to yield a hybrid operating system designed for a touch-centric laptop, much like the Microsoft Surface line of tablets.
Since the solution already exists, it would be a tough admission for Apple to make: that Microsoft got it right years before. Apple isn’t known for swallowing its pride and shipping a copied product, but the company has ways to make certain feature implementations look original.
Regardless of the public’s opinion, Apple indeed needs true multi-tasking in its mobile software, if not as an always-on feature, then at least as an option for a certain “productivity” mode. As for the device that might end up running this hybrid OS, Apple is said to plan shipping a 12-inch iPad Pro with a Smart Cover that has a built-in keyboard in 2015.