How to Multitask on an iPad

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How to Get Started Multitasking on the iPad

Slide Over View allows you to launch apps from a right column on the iPad's screen.

The iPad takes a big jump forward in productivity with the ability to open two apps at the same time. The iPad has long had a limited form of multitasking, which allowed you to switch between apps quickly and to listen to music from Pandora while you are doing other things on your tablet. But the split-screen multitasking introduced in the iOS 9 update takes this to "11", as Nigel Tufnel would say.

The update to iOS 9 includes three new forms of multitasking: Slide Over, Split View, and Picture in Picture. However, you will need a newer iPad to enjoy these new features. Slide Over multitasking requires at least an iPad Air or an iPad Mini 2, and if you want to use Split View to essentially split your screen in two or use the Picture in a Picture feature, you will need at least an iPad Air 2.

As you might expect, Apple has made multitasking very simple. In fact, they may have made it too simple.

Slide Over View. Multitasking starts with the Slide Over View. You can open an app in Slide Over View by sliding your finger from the far right edge of the screen towards the middle of the screen. A new column of app icons will slide into place on the right side of the screen. You can flick up and down to scroll through the list of apps and simply tap the one you want to launch. Remember: you will need to be inside of an app for this to work. If you are on the Home Screen, sliding your finger from the right side of the screen will just take you to a new page of apps.

Split View. As its name suggests, Split View carves the screen in half and dedicates an app to each half of the screen. But both apps must be enabled for Split View, so it won't always be available. Also, your must have at least an iPad Air 2 to run apps in Split View.

The iPad must be in landscape mode for Split View multitasking. If the apps are capable of running in Split View, you will see a small line between the right-side column and the app. You can enter Split View by touching this line and sliding your finger to the middle of the screen without lifting it from the screen. Be careful not to slide your finger all the way to the left side of the screen, otherwise, the app in the column will launch in full-screen mode.

Learn about Multitasking Gestures

Picture in Picture. This is definitely the coolest way to multitask on the iPad. You can launch Picture in Picture any time you are watching a video in a supported app. In the Videos app, the button is located in the bottom-right corner of the screen and it looks like a square with an arrow pointing to a smaller square. As you might surmise, tapping the button puts the iPad in a mode similar to your TV's Picture in a Picture mode, with the video running in a small area on top of any other app you choose to launch.

While in Picture in Picture mode, you can resize the video by pinching in or out with your fingers (similar to zooming in and out of a webpage or photo), you can move it to any of the four corners of the screen by simply tapping and dragging, and you can launch back into full screen by tapping the video and then tapping the full-screen button, which looks similar to the button that launched into Picture in Picture mode. You can also pause or exit the video from this menu, and depending on the app, you may have other app-specific features available.

The Best iPad Apps for Streaming Movies

Is Multitasking Too Simple? Many of us have become quite skilled at flipping through pages in a book or photos in an album by flicking our finger from right to left on the screen, but with these new multitasking features working by sliding our finger from the far right edge of the screen, we may accidentally enable them when we are just hoping to see the next picture or read the next page. No doubt, this will be a little annoying at first, but eventually, we'll correct the way we swipe through pages. Until then, we'll wish for a quick-and-easy way to turn multitasking off while we read.

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iPad Multitasking FAQ

ipad multitasking
Picture in Picture mode allows you to operate the iPad as normal -- launching apps and closing them -- all while watching a video.

Confused? It may take a little practice getting used to the new multitasking capabilities of the iPad, but soon enough, we'll wonder how we ever did without it. Before that day comes, we'll take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about multitasking in iOS 9.

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Why aren't all of my apps on the list? While Slide Over multitasking works in almost any app, you can only launch apps that have enabled the feature into the right column. Apple introduced a new way of allowing apps to adjust to a different screen and window sizes, and this feature must be adopted by the app for it to work with the new split-screen multitasking features.

I've launched an app. How do I get back to the list of apps? If you look at the very top of the column where the Slide Over app is running, you will notice a small gray line right at the edge of the screen. You can get back to the list of apps by touching this line and sliding your finger down without lifting it from the screen.

OK, now I'm multitasking, how do I stop it? You can end Split View and Slide Over View by tapping your finger at the intersection of where both apps meet and then sliding your finger to the right edge of the screen.

I can launch an app in Slide Over mode, but now my main app is disabled...? Slide Over mode does just what the name implies: your new app slides over the old app, allowing you to work with the new app. If you need to do something in your original app, you can slide the app back off the screen as explained in the previous question. When you are ready to work inside the app again, just slide your finger from the right edge of the screen towards the middle and the app will reappear.

If both apps support Split View multitasking (and your iPad is capable of it!), you can enable a mode where Slide Over allows you to work with both apps independently of each other by entering Split View and then moving back into Slide Over View by tapping the middle of the screen, sliding your finger to the right and lifting it before it reaches the edge. In this mode, you can operate both the main window and the app in the right-side column at the same time.