This week a discovery in Apple iOS 8 code by a developer triggered a buzz in the iOS-watching press that split-screen multitasking really may be coming to iOS, even though there was no mention of it during its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which took place June 2 through June 6 in San Francisco. The developer saw possible writing on the wall via a feature in code, indicating support for a split-screen functionality. On Monday, the developer on Twitter said code within iOS 8 pointed to split-screen mode. "Just in case there was any doubt left ... iOS 8's SpringBoard has code to run two apps side-by-side. 1/4 size, 1/2 size, or 3/4 size," tweeted Steven Troughton-Smith of High Caffeine Content, a company that builds apps and games for desktop, mobile and console devices. [Springboard is the application that manages the iOS home screen.]
Other reports this week added that the split-screen multitasking, if and when available, may allow two apps to be displayed on a single screen on the iPad Air tablet, and might even allow sharing information such as images and text between the two.
MacRumors commented that "It appears that split-screen multitasking may initially be limited to the iPad Air, with support for the iPhone and the Retina iPad mini possibly coming at a later date."
Based on the developer's Tweet on Monday, the iPad would make available different pane sizes for showing the apps. Computerworld explained that this means that the SpringBoard code indicated two apps could display simultaneously with the panes one-third, one-half or two-thirds of the width of an iPad display when held in landscape mode.
This would not be the first time that talk surfaced about possible split-screen multi-tasking being made available for the iPad. On May 29, Brian Chen, New York Times technology reporter, said on Twitter that "I've been told that the split-screen feature for iOS 8 isn't ready yet and won't be shown at WWDC. Still a work in progress."
Analysts say that if Apple were to deliver a split-screen view of apps, it would make the iPad all the more engaging for business users, who need a tablet that can go beyond viewing, messaging and picture-sharing to accomplish workplace tasks efficiently.
Might a split-screen multi-tasking feature, then, be part of the final public release of iOS 8 later this year? Those who use iOS are hopeful but, in the absence of any official announcement from Apple, the welcome mat can be parked in storage but left unrolled. As CNET Don Reisinger noted on Tuesday, "Between now and the fall when Apple plans to launch iOS 8, many changes, additions, and omissions can be made."