Report: Apple to Unveil iPad Multitasking Changes at WWDC

Posted on June 2, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Apple, iPadOS with 47 Comments

iPadOS 16, which Apple is expected to announce at its WWDC developer conference next week could give the iPad the multitasking update it deserves. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman is reporting today that iPadOS could take inspiration from desktop operating systems and allow users to resize app windows and deal with multiple apps more easily.

“The iPad’s next major software update, iPadOS 16, will have a redesigned multitasking interface that makes it easier to see what apps are open and switch between tasks, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the changes aren’t yet public. It also will let users resize app windows and offer new ways for users to handle multiple apps at once,” Gurman wrote.

As of today, iPadOS lets users run two apps side by side and bring a minimized third app above them as a Slide Over window. This is already far more flexible than the older versions of iOS, which only allowed iPad users to run one full-screen app at a time. However, the current multitasking experience on iPadOS still leaves a lot to be desired, especially for power users.

In recent years, Apple has been working hard to change the perception problem that makes most consumers still see iPads and other tablets as pure consumption devices. Apple may have brought its powerful new M1 Mac chip to the iPad Pro and the latest iPad Air, but the reality is that iPadOS is still holding back what’s possible to do on these devices.

If iPadOS 16 should be one of the main highlights of WWDC 2022, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman previously reported that we may also see new hardware during the event, with a redesigned M2 MacBook Air possibly making its debut. iOS 16 could also bring a new always-on display feature to the upcoming iPhone 14 Pro line.

Tagged with , ,

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (47)

47 responses to “Report: Apple to Unveil iPad Multitasking Changes at WWDC”

  1. mattbg

    Although I use my personal Windows desktop and work laptop daily, I barely use my personal Windows laptop anymore, having not really got back into travelling since COVID shut everything down.

    I use my iPad every day. So, anything that brings the iPad closer to being able to replace my Windows laptop is a win in my opinion.

  2. Donte

    The iPad for me has always been a consumption device and nothing else.

    They finally added mouse support which is great but too late for me to care.

    • Stabitha.Christie

      Thanks for dusting off the "consumption device" gem. I don't even think Paul pulls that one out anymore.

      • Donte

        We have 5 iPad's in our house. 4 of the 5 are used for nothing but streaming video. Mine is streaming video and the Kindle app. I do have OneNote on it, but I can't remember the last time I used it, as I reach for my iPhone for OneNote first, when not at a computer.

    • rob_segal

      A lot of people care. You may not like it and that's okay. A lot of people do. The iPad is a great product that is getting better. It's still far ahead of competing tablets.

      • Donte

        We probably have over 200 at work. They are used as ordering kiosks at retail locations. Locked down hard with Intune and they boot up and run one app.

  3. rob_segal

    Regarding how the iPad could have better window management, iPadOS already has picture-in-picture for video. I can see multitasking improvements done by simply making every app capable of going to a picture-in-picture mode where the user can resize it, move it around, and have multiple picture-in-pictures. That would be a natural evolution of what Apple has now.

  4. nbplopes

    I'ts the natural evolution for iPad OS. I'm curious on what will be their approach.

    As for the Windows fanboys that took offence on Tim Cook observation. Regardless if one agrees with it or not, the fact is that it seamed to have lead them to build the best tablet in the market and one of the very best laptops. While Microsoft, sure got a lot of press, but actually built neither.

    • wp7mango

      The iPad Pro may well be a better tablet than the Surface Pro, but the Surface Pro is a better laptop than the iPad Pro.

      • nbplopes

        Any iPad is indeed a better tablet than then any Surface. Any MacBook is a better laptops than any Surface.

        This leaves the Surface Pro being the lesser of too.

        When the Surface Pro might be a better solution when you need to combine both at a lowest price possible with the understanding that it’s not really great on either.

  5. matsan

    given the disaster multitasking and windows management is on macOS I hope they will take inspiration from somewhere else before ruining ipadOS as well.

    • ianbetteridge

      I think that needs a little bit more explanation. You might not like the way macOS handles windows, but that's really down to personal preference. And multitasking? It works, well, exactly like any other Unix-based operating system.

      • wp7mango

        Windows definitely multitasks better than MacOS. The taskbar is more intuitive on Windows and provides more information on apps that are running. The stupid app menu on MacOS always at the top of the screen, makes it more difficult than on Windows especially if you need to give focus to an app first before the menu becomes the active one. Just two examples.

        • wright_is

          To be honest, I don't really see any big difference in the task bar in Windows or macOS.

          Menus at the top of the screen, again, same thing. It doesn't bother me, which method I use. Having used Macs and Windows since 1987, I can switch back and forth without really thinking about it and find I am as productive in both environments.

          • rob_segal

            The biggest difference between the taskbar and the dock/menu bar on macOS to me is that system icons are on the taskbar, so you can't hide application icons and always show system tray icons. On macOS, you can always show the menu bar and hide the dock. I found this to be a lot more preferable. There might be a Windows app that accomplishes this, but out of the box, it doesn't have this ability. Reducing the size of the taskbar to small was a decent compromise. I liked the tablet taskbar Microsoft pulled from the dev channel. I wish they added that as an option on all PC's. Set it as default and when you mouse down, the taskbar expands.

            • wp7mango

              It IS an option for all PCs

              1. Right click on the Taskbar
              2. Select Taskbar Settings
              3. Enable the option to "Automatically hide the taskbar in desktop mode"

          • wp7mango

            You're missing the point regarding the menu at the top...

            It's not that it's always at the top of the screen that's the issue, although it is dumb in my opinion. The real issue is that in order for that menu to become the correct one for the application, first you need to give the application focus. So that's two steps required. You don't need to do that with Windows.

            Try it for yourself to see what I mean. Put two application instances side by side, such as two Notepad instances. Then try using the menu for the instance which doesn't have focus. You can't do this on MACOS but you CAN do this on Windows. On MACOS you first have to give focus to the instance you want to use. This is just one example of how multitasking is better on Windows, and less prone to error as a result.

            Another example - how do you rename a virtual desktop on Mac OS? On Windows I can give each virtual desktop its own name, but I can't on MACOS.

    • rob_segal

      I was able to get used to how macOS multitasks and handles application windows. CMD + tab and mission control work fine for me. Switching between application windows is ok. Regarding application windows, Magnet gives me the snapping and maximizing control I need. Windows does this better, but I'm fine using this app.

      I don't know how much you've used macOS, but calling multitasking and windows management on that OS is too harsh. If you're used to how Windows does this, that's fine. It's an adjustment a user has to make when switching from Windows to a Mac. You can't use both systems exactly the same way. There is an adjustment. It might be an adjustment you don't want to make. That's okay. I adjusted and I like it.

      Regarding the taskbar, after I switched to Mac, I started to really dislike the taskbar. The menu bar is consistent on macOS and its applications. It's always in the same spot and some options are in the same place. Also, the ability to always see the menu bar icons and stuff like volume, battery, date time, while hiding the dock is great. I don't want to see application icons on the screen all the time. I switch app windows using Mission Control or CMD + Tab. I can't do this on Windows. I would want to see the system tray all the time and hide the pinned icons unless I mouse down to the bottom of the screen. A 3rd party app might have this ability, but it won't match the usefulness of the menu bar. I don't have moments of frustration using the menu bar. It's one of my favorite features of macOS.

      • matsan

        You are preaching to the choir here - I have exclusively been using macOS since more five years in my role as software developer. Now on MBP 16" running 11.6.6 and on an Apple Studio running 12.4. Both my setups include two screens (using the built-in on the MBP). I have multiple IDEs open for different projects (PHP and JavaScript development), Docker Desktop, a couple of Terminal windows and browsers for debugging. Using multiple Spaces (one for UI development, one for backend, one for version control and composer and one for browsers).

        The fundamental flaw I think is they way macOS is application-centric and not window-centric. Most mac applications cram everything into a single application Window. Having debuggers open in a browser or multiple Terminal windows (except for when using tabs) for example doesn't fit into this thinking.

        Tools like AltTab, WhichSpace, HyperDock and Parallel Tools' Window Manager makes it possible to work in this setup whereas macOS's native functions does not.


        • Native Alt-CMD on switch between applications! Yes I know you can hit arrow-up while the applications are shown and get the application's windows. For some reason this does not work with my IDE PHPstorm. AltTab gives me the ability to switch between the last two windows, not the two applications!
        • Window-resizing - most of the time it works fine but sometimes it's impossible to get a grip on the side of a window and with the "show scroll bar" set to the default to hide it's close to impossible. With 4K and 5K monitors, would it be too much to ask for a 2 pixel wide border around the windows??
        • Full-screen applications occupy a Space and sometimes insert themselves in between and sometimes at the end. Also, they hide the menu-bar in Big Sur! Thankfully fixed in Monterey!
        • The Dock is not present on all monitors. Why? Just why? I remember the dock when it came back in Mac OS X and thought it was cool. Now, not so much - hasn't aged very well. With HyperDock it is at least possible to do some intelligent switching between app windows. uBar does a good job but applications are not aware of the height it occupies so it's annoying. Too bad. Why doesn't the dock fill the entire edge it's docked to? Mysteries, mysteries!
        • The menu-bar with all the utilities - that's another thing that didn't scale, did it? Especially with Apple cramming more and more icons in there, like search and notifications. Yes, I know there are tools like Bartender or Hidden Bar.
        • Snapping of windows. I use Window Manage from Parallels to get this.
        • WhichSpace - valuable addition to the crammed menubar.

        So, I hope the ruin ipadOS.

        • matsan

          "They don't ruin ipadOS"

        • rob_segal

          Regarding the dock not being present on all monitors. I ran into this limitation a while back. Right now, I have the dock on both of my monitors. I don't know why. It's strange. I noticed one day that the dock was on both monitors.

  6. spiderman2

    Cook: "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those aren't going to be pleasing to the user."

    • Stabitha.Christie

      I love when people drag out these quotes as grand gotcha. Cook was asked about merging iOS and MacOS to create one OS for all devices like MS and done with Window 8 and that was his response. You know what Apple hasn't done? Merge MacOS and iOS or merge MacOS and iPadOS. You now what this rumor doesn't suggest? That Apple will be merging iPadOS and MacOS.

      So.... I guess your point was Time Cook was correct and has been remarkably consistent?

      • wp7mango

        It was only Tim Cook who talked about merging a toaster and refrigerator. Nobody else.

        But the fact is, merging different devices has historically proven to be a great success, for example -

        Microwave Oven

        Radio Alarm Clock

        Fridge Freezer

        Smartphone Camera

        All these are great examples of successful merging of devices. So Tim Cook was plain wrong. He simply chose two devices which didn't make any sense to merge in order to suit his narrative. And nobody questioned it, especially the Apple Fanbois brigade.

        The fact is, Microsoft was right all along. The fact that Tim Cook continues to choose not to add touch screen capability to Macbooks is nothing more than marketing and greed to get people to buy two devices rather than one.

        The Macbook is redundant if iOS becomes as capable as MACOS. Apple knows this. You know this too.

        • rob_segal

          Tim Cook was right and the cold reception to Windows 8 from consumers and businesses proved Microsoft was wrong with their execution. A touchscreen on a Mac doesn't add any value. I would argue it doesn't make sense. That's not the purpose of the device. Apple has a successful desktop, mobile, and watch operating systems and devices. They know that if they tried to make macOS work on computers as well as tablets, it would hurt the experience on both. MacOS would become a lesser desktop OS while also being a lesser tablet OS. Instead, they kept macOS being a great desktop OS and made a great tablet OS, thus having great computers and great tablets.

          There's a place for Macs as well as a place for iPads. One does not make the other obsolete. More features added to iPadOS that make sense on a tablet might make some Mac users switch over to it, but all won't. Apple realizes this.

          Lastly, it's okay if you don't like Apple's products. Don't forget a lot of people do and all of those people are not fanboys. Apple makes good products they enjoy using and will continue to use. To insult Apple users because you don't understand why they like Apple's products and the decisions they make is wrong.

          • wp7mango

            Firstly, I wasn't insulting Apple users. Blind Apple Fanbois yes, Apple users no. If you took it as an insult, that is frankly your problem, not mine. But it wasn't an insult to users at all.

            Secondly, I was talking about Windows 10, not Windows 8 which I agree was a disaster.

            Thirdly, a touch screen DOES enhance the overall experience, if you need it. Especially when things are optimised for it. For example, how many Macbook users have to use an external digitiser because that's the only way they can sketch using a pen in Mac OS? With Windows you don't have to - you can have a laptop which serves both functions beautifully. There are plenty of Windows apps which implement a well designed touch / desktop UI very well.

            It's clear that you don't actually understand the value of touch on laptops, because you don't have a need for it. But there are plenty, like myself, who do. That is why for me, Apple doesn't make a single device which meets my requirements, whereas in the Windows world there is plenty of choice.

        • Stabitha.Christie

          He was specifically asked about Windows 8 and if Apple would merge iOS and MacOS. He chose two choices that didn't make sense because merging iOS and MacOS didn't make sense. He didn't say things couldn't be merged, just that in this instance it didn't make sense.

          Curious that you think Microsoft got it right given that the strategy failed to the extend that Windows Phone doesn't even exist and they use Android for their phone offering.

          As for Cook getting it wrong, Apple hasn't merged iOS and MacOS and iPhone sales have remained healthy, iPad sales have remained healthy and the Mac is selling better than it ever has. They did recognize that using iOS for both iPhone and iPad didn't make sense and forked off iPadOS.

          As for your comments on the touchscreen.... if you think that is the only difference between the Mac and iPad then you clearly haven't used either. And I you think people are buying both simply because they want to a touchscreen and laptop ... errrr.... I don't know where to start on how misguided that is. Literally no one is sitting in front or their Mac thinking "This does everything I need it to do but I'd like a touch screen, I'll go buy an iPad".

          Apple made 156 billion dollars in 2012, the year Cook made that comment, and 336 billion in 2021. Your prerogative is yours to have but I venture to guess that most people don't view that as leadership that is getting things wrong and if it is then getting things wrong might not be the worst thing ever.

          • wp7mango

            So the toaster refrigerator merging is nothing to do with Windows Phone. I'm talking about merging tablet with laptop, which DOES work very well. Apple's approach is to make a tablet-optimised device which can also function as a laptop. Microsoft's approach is to take a laptop optimised which can also function as a tablet. Both approaches are valid, and ultimately it's the user requirements which determine which one is best.

            And no, I don't consider a touch screen the only difference between a Macbook and iPad. Having used both, it's blatantly obvious. So it's you has made that assumption, not me. What I AM saying is that there IS value to having a touch screen on a laptop and ideally a touch-optimised experience when being used that way, especially with the 2-in-1 type laptops which fold back and become tablets.

            In the same way that there IS value to adding more laptop-like capabilities to the iPad, there IS value to adding more iPad like capability to a laptop, and let the user decide which one is best for them.

            • Stabitha.Christie

              "So the toaster refrigerator merging is nothing to do with Windows Phone. I'm talking about merging tablet with laptop, which DOES work very well."

              This is the point. Tim Cook was asked about Windows 8 and Microsoft's plans to have one OS for all devices. At the time he was asked the question the Surface hadn't even been announced. So, yes, Window Phone does having something to do with it as it was part of the Windows 8 family. He didn't see merging all things as working well and in the case of Window 8 it didn't. You have called it a disaster as well so it would seem that you agree with Cook's assessment. If you want to misapply the quote go nuts, that's totally your call.

              • wp7mango

                I'm not misquoting. I have checked various sources, and they all say that it was related to the merging of tablet and laptop (related to Windows 8 at the time), but nothing to do with phones.

                So, in that context, Microsoft was correct and Tim Cook was wrong. The fact that Microsoft made a mess of Windows 8 is a different story entirely, but they DID successfully merge tablet and laptop with Windows 10.

                You're the one who is misquoting.

                • Stabitha.Christie

                  Well, fortunately for Apple and it's investors Tim Cook is making the "wrong" calls.

                • wp7mango

                  Tim Cook acknowledging that Microsoft was correct all along, was indeed the right call. Tim Cook copying Microsoft's vision of merging a tablet with a laptop was indeed the right call.

                  Here's the history in brief -

                  1. Microsoft wanted to merge a tablet with a laptop.
                  2. Tim Cook decided that this was a rubbish idea.
                  3. Microsoft successfully merged the tablet and laptop with Windows 10.
                  4. Tim Cook realised it was actually a good idea and decided the iPad would benefit from copying Microsoft's vision of a merged tablet/laptop.

                  That's why the iPad finally supports a stylus and a mouse and is trying to add more laptop capabilities, something which the Surface Pro supported from the very beginning.

                  From a hardware perspective, the Surface Pro 3 was Microsoft's first truly successful tablet/laptop device (back in 2014) but it wasn't until a year later when Windows 10 was released that the Surface Pro 3 became a great 2-in-1 device.

                  As a shareholder in Apple, I'm delighted that customers such as yourself are making me money. So thank you for that and please keep going ;-)

      • spiderman2

        I love apple fanboys replies

        • rob_segal

          It's not about being an Apple fanboy. Apple makes products a lot of people like. Everything they make is not perfect. I have a Logitech ergonomic keyboard that is better than the keyboards Apple makes, even though I wish it had a touch id button. I like the Logitech vertical mouse more than Apple's mouse. MacOS and iPadOS aren't perfect. I prefer them over Windows PCs and Android tablets.

          Regarding Tim Cook's quote, features on iPadOS that makes sense in macOS will be migrated to macOS and vice versa. A mouse doesn't look and work in the exact same way on macOS and iPadOS and I expect multitasking to follow that same road. IPadOS' multitasking won't look the same as macOS. It might look similar in some ways, but it won't be exactly the same. A window in iPadOS won't look the same as macOS. That's what I expect. As I mentioned in another comment, I wouldn't be surprised if this is an evolution of picture-in-picture for video. That would make sense on an iPad. Picture-in-picture with an entire app instead of just a video. A user can have multiple picture-in-pictures, can resize them, close them in the same way they would close a video. That's one way Apple can accomplish this that fits the way they evolve their software.

        • Donte

          They are steeped in fanboy arrogance. You can almost imagine it dripping from their fingers as they reply to your comments.

        • Stabitha.Christie

          Not uncommon for people to fall back on personal attacks when they have nothing of substance to say.

  7. truerock2

    I've always felt that the iPad's primary problem has been that it wants to be different from iPhone. In my opinion, this has made iPad an inferior product compared to iPhone.

    A better strategy would have been to make iPad a bigger iPhone with windows.

    I am very impressed at how mouse support has been developed for the iPad. Mouse support is essential for working with a windows GUI.

    • Stabitha.Christie

      "make iPad a bigger iPhone with windows."

      That is probably way easier said than done. My guess is that when it comes to windowing on the iPad Apple is taking their time to ensure they get it right much like they did with cut and pate and mouse support. Making it a windowed OS would have been easy. Making it a good experience is a bit harder.

    • rob_segal

      That's how iPad started. It looked and worked like a big iPhone. Some people called the iPad a giant iPhone. iPadOS didn't exist. It was just IOS. As the years went by, the iPad diverged from the iPhone in some ways, as it should be, and iPadOS came into existence. The iPad is a different product than the iPhone and is being treated as such. This is the right thing to do.

  8. wp7mango

    I guess once they eventually get iPad OS right, there will be no need for a Macbook anymore.

    • rob_segal

      It's not about getting the iPad right, but making a great product even better in ways that make sense. There will still be a need for Macs for some people. For others, an iPad is or will be sufficient. Some will replace Macs with iPads and that's fine for Apple. It's part of the same ecosystem.

  9. digiguy

    I they only add windowed apps but no extended monitor support that's almost wasted. The iPad screen is too small (except maybe for the 12.9 and even that it's tight) to do much with windowed apps, especially overlappable ones, it would be a mess. Either they make a better split screen like Samsung or even Windows, or they allow extended monitor with this desktop mode.

    • Stabitha.Christie

      I think there is an assumption that windowing will work exactly like MacOS vs. rethinking windowing for the smaller screen and touch. The latter is seems more probably. When they brought mouse support to iPadOS people expected it to be a pointer and work the way it did in MacOS and that a wasn't what happened. They develop pointer support that worked in the context of how iPadOS works.

  10. jchampeau

    The iPad looks a little more like a truck every day.