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Multitasking in iOS 9 makes the iPad a true post-PC device

Michael Simon | June 16, 2015
The iPad has always been a paradox. While it may have been built to fill the rather sizable gap between the iPhone and Mac, it never really embraced its own identity, playing second fiddle to each of the devices it was stuck between. Consequently, Apple's mighty tablet has never quite been able to live up to the lofty expectations it created as the de facto leader of the post-PC revolution.

By bringing quick keys and a virtual trackpad, Apple is finally letting the iPad rub elbows with the Mac, giving us a way to navigate text, access files and browse photos with ease. The iPad's QuickType refinements aren't just about freeing our fingersthey elevate Apple's tablet to a whole new level of productivity and efficiency, and open up the platform for even bigger changes.

Glimpse of the future

We've been reading about rumors of the iPad Pro for years, but multitasking has always been the highest hurdle Apple had to clear before it could become a reality. Using a MacBook-sized screen without any way to run more than one app at a time is a non-starter, and the idea of a 12-inch iPad always seemed like too much screen for this incarnation of iOS. But iOS 9 is the first clue from Apple that it's beginning to think big.

The multitasking system it devised is clearly built for larger screens. While we could certainly see the iPhone 6S Plus take advantage of Slide Over and maybe even Picture in Picture, Apple has so far reserved its Split Screen mode for the iPad Air 2, where it has room to breathe. And with an even bigger screen, Apple's iOS multitasking could be an absolute thing of beauty, perhaps even letting us run up to four apps in quadrants and taking advantage of its inevitable Force Touch technology to quickly switch between screens and views.

Apple has opened up a world of potential with iOS 9, not just for the iPad but for the apps that run on it. With the iPad emerging as a true post-PC device, we'll begin to approach what we do on it differently too. Tasks that weren't natural before will become commonplace as developers explore ways to use the Slide Out, Split View, and Picture in Picture to their advantage. The main purpose of the iPad was always to allow for iPhone developers to super-size their apps in terms of size and scale, with extra functionality and smarter interfaces that redefine our expectations of a mobile app. iOS 9 challenges that convention even more, shifting the iPad experience closer to the Mac and letting the tablet finally step out of the iPhone's shadow.

It's not just about running two or even three apps at the same time. It's about doing more than we ever dreamed possible on a multitouch device.


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