iOS 11 Feature Wishlist: iPad Multitasking Overhaul

BY Khamosh Pathak

Published 2 Jun 2017

ios 11 concept 1

Just before WWDC 2016, I bought the 9.7 inch iPad Pro hoping to see iPad specific features in iOS 10. And we all know how that turned out. Since iOS 9, we haven’t seen any new major iPad-specific features. In the same time span, we got two iPad Pros. iPad is long overdue for some iOS productivity love.

Split View 2.0

If there’s one feature that needs a version 2.0 on the iPad, it’s Split View. It was a basic implementation of multitasking in iOS 9 days and it just hasn’t aged well since. Split View is way too basic for a power user and the more you use it, the more annoying its limitations get.

iOS 9 - iPad multitasking - Split view

Right now, the app on the left is always the main app (with the status bar) and the one on the right is the other app. There should be a way to let the user decide which one is the main app. There should at least be a way to easily swap the position of two apps running side-by-side.

The way you get into Split View (via Slide Over) and the way you switch between apps in Split View is arcane. There should be a way to easily add a second app or switch between different apps without going back to the App Switcher or the Springboard. Federico Viticci’s iOS 11 concept shows a way to put favorite apps and a way to search apps right in Split View. This seems like a good feature.

Drag and Drop

One of the biggest reasons a lot of people like me still stick with the Mac is because of the freedom. Just how easy it is to drop files and content between apps. iOS desperately needs a simple way to do this.

ios 11 concept 3

And the most sensible thing to do is implement a system-wide drag and drop feature. Heck Apple, even app developers are creating their own hacks to pull this off on their own. That has to be a sign.

More Than Two Apps in Split View

While this might be a squeeze on the 9.7 inch iPad Pro, there’s certainly enough room to run three apps side by side on the 12.9 inch iPad. Maybe Apple can even let users run 4 apps in a grid layout.

Some Kind of File System

ios 11 concept 4

Productivity-wise, the lack of an easy to use file system also hurts the iPad. Apple doesn’t need to bring the Finder to the iPad but they do need a better way to handle files than the current iCloud Drive app and the Documents Picker.

Apple needs to overhaul the iCloud Drive app and make it serve as an underlying file system that only exposes user’s documents and nothing related to the system. Multiple apps could then work with the same file, just like Mac apps.

A combination of Split View 2.0, drag and drop and a new file system app could signal a new era of computing on the iPad. There would be way less of the jumping around that you currently have to do – between different apps that each create a duplicate version of the file you put in.

About Federico Viticci’s Shelf Idea

iPad Pro users have been thinking about drag and drop and improved Split View for a long time now. But one of the features that truly surprised me in Federico’s iOS 11 concept was the Shelf. At first, I was resistant to the idea. It looked too complicated. Something Apple would never do.

ios 11 concept 2

But the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. It would be especially helpful for a long time Mac users who are used to dropping files on the Desktop. For example, when I write an article, I have to deal with images and links. If there was a place where I could temporarily store these files, and get back to the later when uploading the article to WordPress, that truly would be helpful. A feature like this would again solve iPad’s biggest UX problem – the jumping around part.

iPad Goes Pro

When it comes to iPad being a productivity machine, it’s not the hardware that’s the limiting factor. The big iPad Pro beats the new MacBook in some benchmarks. The iPad Pro has the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard as well. What’s stopping iPad from being a productivity machine for a large number of people is software. Hopefully, iOS 11 takes the necessary steps

Hopefully, iOS 11 takes the necessary steps to integrate the productivity features that power users need to get work done.

What do you think of the iPad Pro? Do you use the iPad to get work done? Or is the iPad too limiting for the kind of work you do? Share with us in the comments below.

Check out the other features in our iOS 11 Wishlist: