Multitasking on iPadOS

3 min read

Unless you have never used a traditional computer, you are probably used to the way of how multitasking works on a desktop platform. In comparison to iPadOS, it is familiar and therefore feels snappy and right at home. For this reason, when you pick your iPad to do some lightweight work, you get the feeling that something is broken.

Since iPadOS is still a young operative system, it is not finished with establishing the form of interaction with the device and how flexible it should be.

Most of the complaints about limitations of multitasking on iPadOS, comes from users, who are used to how multitasking and window management works on desktop platforms. You don’t find a lot of criticism from users who perhaps have a iPad as their sort of first computer. In fact, today, especially younger generation, don’t even know how to navigate in a hierarchy of folders.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get numerous improvements in this area in iPadOS 15. The ability to open two apps in split view or in a slide over, preconfigured in a shortcut, is a welcome change, but is still not enough to make iPad an efficient multitasking machine.

One of the main issues, is a lack of extensive support for keyboard shortcuts and basically lac of flexibility. On macOS, such commands as the Window Chooser for VoiceOver users 1 makes it a brief experience to get a quick overview of opened windows.

Perhaps, you can’t even close an active window on iPad by pressing ⌘ + W on a hardware keyboard. Apple, you putted a robust M1 chip in the latest iPad Pro, it shouldn’t be difficult to add powerful features to the operative system itself as well.

Concentration Flow

It would be boring if I only wrote about the downside of iPadOS. Because of the limitations of the system itself, it makes it more difficult to be distracted and therefore can help you to focus on a single task at a time. While wrote this piece on my iPad, due to muscle memory from using a MacBook, I tried several times to activate Alfred and do a custom search on the web. Thanks to iPadOS, it wasn’t so smooth to do, and I continued to write. Big chance, if I was on my MacBook, I could disappear in the rabbit holes of the web. Not because I was bored with writing, but it is so easy to open a new tab or window on the Mac and in a few minutes do something entirely different from what you actually should be doing.

You can go a step further, delete all applications which distracts you, switch on airplane mode and just disappear in the flow of writing. A method to turn your iPad into a sort of Expensive Typewriter.

iPad is a great device for typing text, as I actually do now, but otherwise, I’m skeptical that iPadOS will become a solid platform with more flexibility for power users in the near future.

Personally, I would love to be able to enable macOS on iPad and turn off iPadOS completely. As a hardware device, iPad is a joy to use, but the operative system is unconvincing.

  1. Activates by holding down VO key + pressing F2 key twice  ↩