Don’t expect to see split-screen iOS 8 multitasking at WWDC

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When the Microsoft Surface was first unveiled, one of its “iPad killing” features was splitscreen app support. Just by dragging an app to the edge of the screen, you could dock it, and run another app to the left or right… for example, playing a game while watching a movie in the corner.

It was a move designed to make the Surface more laptop-like… and one that Apple has been heavily rumored to copy in iOS 8, as tablet sales flatline. But don’t expect to see splitscreen multitasking at WWDC on Monday. Apparently it’s just not ready for showtime yet.

Brian X. Chen, a technology writer for The New York Times, tweeted today that while the split-screen feature is coming, it’s still buggy.

Chen claims that he got this information, not from Apple PR, but from another source who is familiar with Apple’s plans. He says he’s known not to expect split-screen multitasking on the Mac for about a week, but has only spoken up to curb rampant speculation ahead of Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, set to start Monday.

Chen’s report implies that while we won’t see split-screen multitasking at WWDC, it will be ready in time for the next iPad Air and iPad mini release dates, which will probably happen sometime in October.

As for the feature itself, it’s hard to say whether or not it will help save stagnating iPad sales. Many people would like to do more PC-like work on their iPads, only to be stymied by the iPad’s inability to run apps side-by-side, or consult multiple documents simultaneously. But will the feature be usable? In Cult of Mac’s testing with a jailbreak split-screen multitasking app, we came away highly unimpressed. But if anyone can do better, Apple can.

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About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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