iOS 9 on iPad Air 2 hands-on: Huge new features coming this fall

by Brandon Russell | June 9, 2015

Apple knows interest in the iPad isn’t what it once was. Not only are sales declining, but competing devices are gaining in marketshare. Is the iPad dead? No, not exactly. In fact, following yesterday’s iOS 9 announcement, Apple’s once-dominant slate might be better than it ever was.

The iPad has always teetered on that post-PC promise, offering great functionality without really becoming a top-tier productivity machine. Yes, it’s terrific for consuming content and playing games. But it’s not the greatest device for getting work done. That all changes with iOS 9’s new multitasking capabilities.

There are three big features regarding multitasking. Instead of just the usual app switcher, you can now run two apps simultaneously on the same screen.

Slide Over lets you open a second app in the right panel, giving you the opportunity to do stuff like crawl through your Twitter feed, check messages and more, all while having a second window open in the left portion. This feature is 70 / 30, which means one app takes up 70-percent of the screen, while the other only takes up 30-percent.

This feature is designed more as a way to allow users to quickly get something done, or check on information while they perform a main task. Say you’re browsing the Web and you need to check on dates for a vacation. Rather than just hopping between apps, they can now run side-by-side.

Split View, meanwhile, allows you to have two active apps open at the same time, with the screen split down the middle. This feature is designed more for productivity; work on a document in the left pane, for example, while doing research in the other pane.

Neither of these features are new to the tablet world. Samsung has offered multi-window capabilities for a few years, while Microsoft’s Windows has shown competitors how full-screen multitasking should be done. Apple is simply playing catch up.

Be that as it may, by giving the iPad these capabilities, Apple is getting serious about turning the iPad’s fortunes around. Not only is it perfect for consuming video and playing games, now it’s something you can use to get work done. It’s like a Surface, but arguably better.

And this could all be leading toward an iPad Pro, which has the potential to put the iPad into a category Microsoft has been trying to win for the past few years. Whether these features will help propel the iPad up the sales charts remains to be seen. From what we’ve seen so far in the beta, iOS 9 is certainly poised to be a major upgrade for the iPad, even if something as small as Picture in Picture seems ancient.

Check out the video above to see iOS 9 running on an iPad Air 2 in action.



Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...