9to5mac: iPad to get dual app viewing mode

Mark Gurman, writing for 9to5mac:

Facing slowing growth for the first time since the iPad’s 2010 debut, Apple is working on several significant software and hardware updates to reinvigorate the tablet over the next year. Apple is developing a dual-app viewing mode, 12-inch iPads codenamed “J98″ and “J99,” as well as support for multi-user logins, according to sources briefed on the plans.


Sources now say that Apple plans to show off the side-by-side feature for iOS 9 using currently available iPad models. 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. Sources are quick to warn, however, that the feature could still be pulled before next month’s conference, as additional polish would be needed to bring it to the same level as other features that will be making their way into the first iOS 9 beta next month.

I can’t help but be reminded of the evolution of the original Mac, which went from supporting a single application at a time, to a primitive multi-app Switcher, then to basic multiple app support with MultiFinder.

That original evolution was constrained by limited memory and the lack of a built-in windowing system. Not exactly the same, but certainly similar to what the iPad is going through.

Apple had originally intended to debut side-by-side app support with iOS 8 on the iPad Air in 2014, matching the cornerstone feature of Microsoft’s Surface and Surface Pro tablets. In the lead up to WWDC 2014, the feature was deemed too unpolished for public consumption and pulled from iOS 8.0, with tentative plans to appear in iOS 8.1. However, Apple reprioritized its software engineering resources to finish up the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Watch, opting to cut the split-screen app feature for the time being, and reassign the majority of the engineers who were working on it.

Kudos to Apple for not releasing this before it’s rock solid and ready for prime time.