For relatively simple tasks such as using multiple apps side by side or opening more than one window for an app such as Pages, the iPad support site is cryptic and, in some cases, just plain wrong. As just one example, the on-line guidance advises: “go to Settings > General > Multitasking & Dock…”. Trouble is, the General section of Settings on my iPad Pro doesn’t have a Multitasking & Dock section. A little bit of foraging gets me to the Home Screen & Dock section where, yes, the Multitasking adjustments are available.
On the positive side, one now has a real Safari browser, equivalent in most regards to the “desktop” version, and the ability to open two independent windows side by side.
Because I feel self-conscious about my mental and motor skills, I compared notes with a learned friend, a persistent fellow who forced himself to learn touch typing by erasing the letters on his keyboard. He, too, finds iPadOS discoverability to be severely lacking. There are lot of new and possibly helpful features but, unlike the 1984 Mac, not enough in the way of the hints that menu bars and pull-down menus provide. It all feels unfinished, a long, long list of potentially winning features that are out of the reach of this mere mortal and that I assume will remain undiscovered by many others.
The iPadOS multi-tasking features are deliberately hidden1; they’ve obviously been designed around users who don’t want to use them, never having to see them. So it’s not discoverable, but that’s not the most important take-away from these design decisions, the more important take-away is that Apple doesn’t think most iPad users need these features.
The reason iPad users don’t need these features is because no one is using the platform for complex creative tasks. As I wrote in a footnote to a link about macOS Catalina:
It’s hypocritical for Apple to promote the iPad as the future (“what’s a computer?”) when everything the company makes is built with Macs. Carts can’t pull horses; what Apple should be doing is improving the iPad to the point those employees are using iPads for their work and then start pitching it as the future.
How can Apple design a nice multi-tasking system for a platform that their own employees can’t even use for their work?
For me personally, the biggest problem with iPadOS multi-tasking is that it is stuck behind sluggish and clumsy gestures like dragging, and touch and hold. I don’t mind using these gestures for deleting and re-arranging apps, but for something that you’re interacting with constantly, like a multi-tasking system, I find them excruciating. ↩︎