The staggering rise, and relative easing, of the iPad has been extraordinary. Apple has sold hundreds of millions of tablets since it the original debuted in early 2010, but one of the criticisms continually lobbed against the sandboxed iOS platform is that it does not support true multitasking.
According to a credible source at 9to5Mac, that is about to change. iOS 8, destined to be announced in the coming weeks at WWDC, will reportedly debut two-pane multitasking on modern iPads, likely the iPad 4, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina. Apple is likely to release an accompanying API for developers to add cross-app functionality, something that has proven to be tricky in its current form.
Though marketed as a post-PC product, the iPad has not quite dislodged the PC from its place as a productivity powerhouse. Apple’s own MacBook line continues to be the preferred way to accomplish highly complex tasks, as the operating system was designed to allow apps to freely share data. Even with the App Store’s own sandboxing limitations implemented to prevent security breaches, OS X continues to be far more capable for content creation than its single-screen iOS counterpart.
Samsung has implemented a similar system across Android, subbed Multi Windows, growing it into a mini ecosystem of cooperative apps. For example, it’s possible to drag a photo from the Android gallery into a chat app to quickly share it with a contact. While Android wasn’t explicitly designed for such interactions, either, its open nature makes it far easier to develop such capabilities.
iOS, on the other hand, is steadfastly controlled and maintained by Apple itself, so any multitasking changes would have to come from changes made to the framework of the operating system. Implementing a two-pane multitasking system, which would allow two apps to run simultaneously side by side and share some data, would go a long way to appeasing the naysayers accusing iOS of being a more limited operating system than Android, OS X and Windows.