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Apple is planning more multitasking improvements for the iPad

Apple is beefing upon the multitasking features of the iPad in the upcoming iPadOS 15 update. However, the tech giant has filed for a patent (number 20210216176) that shows more work is planned in this area.

About the patent filing

The patent filing is dubbed “systems, methods, and user interfaces for interacting with multiple application windows.” In the filing, Apple notes that handheld electronic devices with touch-sensitive displays are ubiquitous. 

These devices were originally designed for information consumption (e.g., web-browsing) and communication (e.g., email). However, Apple says that they’re rapidly replacing desktop and laptop computers as users’ primary computing devices. 

When using desktop or laptop computers, these users are able to routinely multitask by accessing and using different running applications (e.g., cutting-and-pasting text from a document into an email). And, as Apple notes, while there has been “tremendous growth” in the scope of new features and applications for handheld electronic devices, the ability to multitask and swap between applications on handheld electronic devices requires entirely different input mechanisms than those of desktop or laptop computers. 

What’s more, the need for multitasking is particularly acute on handheld electronic devices, as they have smaller screens than traditional desktop and laptop computers. Some conventional handheld electronic devices attempt to address this need by recreating the desktop computer interface on the handheld electronic device. 

However, Apple says that such solutions don’t take into account: (i) the significant differences in screen size between desktop computers and handled electronic devices, and (ii) the significant differences between keyboard and mouse interaction of desktop computers and those of touch and gesture inputs of handled electronic devices with touch-sensitive displays. 

The tech giant says that other attempted solutions require complex input sequences and menu hierarchies that are even less user-friendly than those provided on desktop or laptop computers. For these reasons, Apple says “it’s  desirable to provide an intuitive and easy-to-use systems and methods for simultaneously accessing multiple functions or applications on handheld electronic devices.”

The patent filing summary

Here’s Apple’s summary of the patent filing: “While displaying the dock overlaid on a first user interface of a first application, an electronic device detects a first input selecting a respective application icon in the dock. If the respective application icon corresponds to the first application and the first application is associated with multiple windows, the electronic device displays respective representations of the multiple windows of the first application. 

“If the respective application icon corresponds to the first application and the first application currently is only associated with a single window, the electronic device maintains display of the first user interface of the first application. If the respective application icon corresponds to a second application, the electronic device replaces display of the first user interface of the first application with display of a second user interface of the second application, irrespective of how many windows were associated with the second application at the time.”

Article provided with permission from AppleWorld.Today
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