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Hands-on with iOS 9's slick new multitasking features for iPad

Oscar Raymundo | July 13, 2015
Scientists have found that humans may not be as good at multitasking as we once thought, but that was all before Apple gave the iPad splitscreen capabilities in iOS 9.

Split View certainly adds an exciting element to using an iPad. Having two fully functioning apps open at the same time will satisfy any urge you may have to be efficient. Even just seeing two apps on the same screen makes you feel like you're already being productive. Gone are the days when switching between apps required double pressing the Home button and flipping through your apps.

Even though Split View allows you to work on two apps at once, interaction between the two apps is limited. Sure, you can copy a chunk of text from one app and paste it onto the other. And if Safari is open, clicking on a link in another app will open it in Safari. But it'd be a true multitasking feat if you could drag URLs, photos, and text back and forth between apps.

Picture in Picture

Apple knows that multitasking can sometimes involve watching a baseball game while doing other things. That's where Picture in Picture comes into play. The video feature is similar to how YouTube and Tumblr let you minimize a floating video player to continue browsing around the screen. Facebook is testing a similar feature. Picture in Picture in iOS 9 is not app-specific, however.

While watching a video in fullscreen, click on the Home button (or a new button on a lower right corner of the video) to scale down the video seamlessly without pausing or skipping. The floating video continues to play as an overlay and you can open and navigate other apps. You can even move the floating video screen to different corners of the iPad or move it slightly offscreen if you only want to listen to the audio.

Picture in Picture works with videos stored in the Videos app, FaceTime conversations and movies or TV shows you downloaded from iTunes. Third-party partners are expected with iOS 9's final release. During WWDC, Picture in Picture was demoed using the ESPN app. In the first public beta, however, Netflix shows and YouTube videos couldn't be popped out in this fashion. 


Another notable update iOS 9 brings to the iPad is improvements to QuickType. Basic functions such as copy/paste, adding an attachment, and formatting text now appear on top of the QuickType keyboard in the all-new Shortcut Bar. According to Apple, the Shortcut Bar will have different tools customized by third-party apps, however none of these custom shortcuts were seen in the first iOS 9 public beta.

Perhaps the biggest update is how the iPad's touchscreen can now be turned into a trackpad. By placing two fingers down at the same time anywhere on the screen, even the keyboard, you can activate and control the cursor, making it easier to select large chunks of text and edit or format the selection.


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