Multitasking is the newest feature for iPad apps. Users can now view and use two apps simultaneously. Available in iOS 9, multitasking can be used starting with iPad Air 2 generation devices. In order to use apps in the multitasking mode, the function has to be enabled for both apps. The two apps, however, have to be different apps, e.g. two browser windows will not function with multitasking.
We believe that the newest multitasking feature works particularly well with news apps, tools such as notes and streaming services because all of these are also widely used as desktop tools. While users play games, they can also simultaneously follow a live ticker. Say a user browses through a music magazine, at the same time he can search for concert tickets, look up the weather report for an open-air concert or add concert dates to his calendar.
Use two apps in different modes
There are two split-screen modes for the iPad in iOS9, which allow you to run two apps that appear side by side. The Slide Over mode has a so-called primary app that takes up two thirds of the screen, while the secondary app is displayed in the remaining third. The two-third view is also referred to as the regular view, since the app content is displayed exactly as in the portrait orientation. The one-third view is narrow and resembles a smartphone-like design. In this mode, the user can work in one app at a time, while the other app is visible, but grayed out.
The second mode is called Split View, and it allows the user to slide the divider between two panes and determine where to split the app view. Both apps are active here, thus users can work with both apps at once.
The increasing importance of videos
The latest iOS 9 also presents new video features. Users can detach videos from the primary app and display it in a separate window. Video players are now equipped with additional controls, allowing users to work in the multitasking mode. With this change, Apple is actively responding to the increasing diffusion and use of videos.
The design of the multitask-compatible apps offers a particular challenge. It would not be possible e.g., in magazine apps, to create the same pixel-accurate design for each screen size. In order to automatically adapt to any screen orientation, the app design must be resizable and responsive. Therefore, instead of implementing different screen designs, design elements such as text boxes, picture galleries, media players, etc. are created for different size classes (smartphone portrait & landscape, tablet portrait & landscape). You can add size classes starting with iOS 7 and support older iOS versions in addition to iOS 9.
Different content for different views
Size classes also allow you to display different content in each view. For example, you can show all articles in your magazine app if it is the primary app, and only run a news ticker if it is used as the secondary app. This way you can give users the possibility to consume all messages according to the situation and personal preferences.
More benefits for users, even without multitasking
Some of the multitasking benefits for users can also be implemented in your app without the function of multitasking. For example, an in-app browser allows users to search or shop without leaving the app. If you integrate thematic services such as weather forecasts or sharing options, users won’t need to use any external apps.
Is iOS multitasking beneficial to your app?
With the multitasking feature, you basically give your users more freedom. If you opt for it, you should also take advantage of the size class possibilities in order to achieve and guarantee excellent user experience. Consider how your users will use your app in the split-screen modes and what expectations they will have from the different views.