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Apple to Introduce a Much-Wanted Feature in iOS 8, Rumor Says

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Following in the footsteps of Microsoft Surface and Android tablets, Apple is said to introduce split-screen multitasking in the next version of iOS 8.

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When it comes to a tablet -- whether it's an iOS (NASDAQ:AAPL), Android (NASDAQ:GOOG), or Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) device -- productivity will always pale in comparison to a desktop or laptop computer. While specs and software have advanced to the point where the difference in power is minimal, a self-contained tablet, by its very nature, cannot match the speed and efficiency of a full-sized keyboard and a separate monitor. And the fact that there's a market for detachable keyboards for tablets speaks volumes about how essential PCs and laptops continue to be.

However, devices such as the Microsoft Surface and Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) Galaxy tablets have added a feature that attempts to bridge the efficiency gap. Working in conjunction with multitasking capabilities, those lines of products allow users to display a split-screen workspace with two app windows sitting side-by-side and running simultaneously. Conspicuously missing from Apple products -- which also have had issues and controversies surrounding true multitasking in the past -- the split-screen feature was used prominently in Microsoft Surface ads touting the shortcomings of the pricier iPads.

 


Well, according to a rumor reported by 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman, Apple will finally introduce split-screen functionality into iOS 8. Similar to the Microsoft Surface feature, the alleged split-screen windows will allow users to run and interact with two iPad apps at the same time -- a task that has so far only been achievable by jailbreaking the Apple device and installing the OS Experience tweak by Cydia.

Along with the side-by-side windows, sources say that Apple is designing the feature to let apps interact with one another. Users will allegedly be able to highlight and drag content -- such as text, images, or video -- from one window to another. And with that functionality in place, iOS developers may soon see true XPC support in iOS and allow them to share content between their apps.

YouTuber Sam Beckett mocked up a video of what the split-screen feature would look like on the iPad.



But in practice, the feature may have some limitations.

Gurman writes that the split-screen feature will only work in landscape mode and will likely be unveiled only with the larger 9.7-inch iPad in mind. Given the size of the iPhone -- despite the larger screen said to be featured in this year's model -- split-screen functionality probably won't be feasible in such a limited space. Even the iPad Mini, with its 7.9-inch display, could be left out from the update. For Apple, which prides itself on eschewing Android-level fragmentation, such a feature split will be a departure from the company's history of consistency across its mobile devices.

But if the rumor is proven true, Apple will have added much-wanted functionality to the iPad pined for by users who required better productivity. Anyone who's had to write software code or consult source material while writing a report recognizes the advantage of having two windows open simultaneously, often to the point where working on anything but a PC or laptop is completely impractical.

And while an iPad might not provide the most ideal workstation, split-screen multitasking would be very welcome among users and eliminate one bragging right from competitors' marketing campaigns.

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