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With Multitasking, the iPad edges ever closer to laptop replace

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(Cybertech) – After last year’s Apple developer keynote, I said that iPadOS still doesn’t solve the iPad’s key problem (but it can). What I meant was that the iPad was still poor at doing multiple things at the same time – something we take for granted on a computer.

We have a bunch of windows open even if we’re only concentrating on one or two of them at the same time. I’m writing this on an iMac, with Chrome and Word sitting alongside each other and Finder and WhatsApp windows in the background.

Now, with the new Multitasking feature, Apple has brought at least some of this flexibility to the iPad. OK, so you still can’t have windows where you want, but the new Shelf feature is essentially multiple desktop support straight from the macOS playbook. 

This matters because Apple is being pretty clear that it doesn’t want to bring touch to the Mac; the recent iMac would have been a brilliant introduction for that. But Apple clearly doesn’t want to do it. So what we need is more features on an iPad. Because, as Apple likes to remind us periodically, the iPad is a computer. 

Millions of kids are now growing up used to touchscreens. They don’t like computers they can’t touch and the iPad is becoming the computer for them (that’s not to say touch on Windows 10 can’t also cater for this, because it can and does). 

But more toys needed

The multitasking menu appears at the top of apps so you can choose to go into Split View or Slide Over with just a tap. You can swap out apps in Split View and quickly access the Home screen. The Shelf means you can have a lot more stuff open. 

There are new keyboard shortcuts, too, and you can see which shortcuts are available. The iOS App Library, now on iPad, can act as a launcher. Universal Control – where you can work with a single mouse and keyboard between iPad and Mac – is super clever.

But, Apple clearly doesn’t want to give us all the toys yet. Files for iPadOS is like a toy version of the Mac’s Finder. External display support for the iPad isn’t great. There’s no multi-user support (Apple thinks we should all have a personal iPad, we guess). And some Pro-level Apple apps like Final Cut Pro or Logic show no signs of becoming iPad apps. 

But even though these things aren’t here yet, it’s pretty clear that the development of iPadOS is only heading one way – and that’s towards a more flexible future. 

Writing by Dan Grabham.



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