iOS 9 multitasking explained. Split View vs Slide Over: what's the difference and should you care?


When Apple announced iOS 9 a few months ago, we were happy to hear about the new multitasking functionality – picture-in-picture, Split View, and Slide Over. Indeed, while Android devices have had such features for quite a while, Apple's devices were lagging a bit behind, and it was nice to see that the iPads may get some extended functionality. But wait, let's start from the top.

Slide Over and Split View – what are they and how are they different?


Split View and Slide Over are iOS 9's answer to the demand for multitasking on mobile devices. They both look very similar – you just swipe in from the right of the screen and you get a second overlay, which can launch a number of secondary apps, without you having to leave the app you've been working on. You may have heard, however, that Split View is only available for the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, and iPad Pro, while Slide Over is also supported on older devices – namely, the iPad Air, iPad mini 2, and iPad mini 3. So, is it worth getting the newest and best from Apple just for Split View, or would Slide Over do the job just fine?


Slide Over


First things first, Slide Over is merely meant as a peek-in-peek-out type function. Let's say you want to start a Facebook chat without leaving Safari. You swipe in from the right and scroll through all the apps available in the Slide Over menu. When you pick Messenger, it loads in that small patch of screen space it has been given. When done with the new app, tapping anywhere outside the Slide Over tray will close it and let you resume your work. So, the whole feature looks like an extended variant of the actionable notifications – you can check and reply to chats, have a quick peek at your schedule or add an event to the calendar, have a quick glimpse at your photo and video albums, et cetera, and then quickly return to whatever you were doing beforehand.

It's definitely a useful feature and those of you who spend a lot of time on the iPad will love it. Unfortunately, opening apps in the Slide Over tray is a bit of a tedious process right now, as it involves scrolling through a long column of all the available ones. Finding your most recently used apps is easy, as they get moved to the list's starting point, but this also means that there is absolutely no order to how apps are arranged further down the line. And the apps aren't even that many – just most of the stock iOS ones, and a few ones that have already been updated to support the new feature. We hope Apple gives us an option to sort said app list when more and more developers make theirs Slide Over-capable, because we can see it getting overcrowded pretty fast, which would render the multitasking feature useless – it will be much faster to press Home, find and use your desired app, then get back to what you were doing, instead of having to shuffle through an endless list of icons.

It's important to note that Slide Over can be pulled over any and all apps – independent of whether the developer has updated the compatibility on their app of not. This will come up again later, as we talk about Split View.

All in all, Slide Over is for quick glimpses and actions, don't expect to stream a video clip on one side of the screen, while reading forums on the other.


Split View


Split View is Apple's take on true split-screen multitasking. It allows users to run two apps in real-time, each taking up part of the screen. This means you can keep scrolling that Safari page without having to close Messenger, so you can stay engaged in that heated group conversation. It's definitely a feature that has been long-awaited on an iOS device, but it's not one that will wow you – at least not in its current state.

First of all, Split View launches in the same way that one would launch Slide Over – you just have to pull the secondary window further into the center of the display. So it inherits Slide Over's drawbacks – limited app support (at least for now), and a messy app tray.

Furthermore, you can't launch Split View when in apps that don't support it. Remember what we said about Slide Over being available as an overlay in absolutely any app? Well, if you try to open Split View in an app that hasn't been coded to allow it, all you will get is Slide Over. So, if you've been dreaming about having a YouTube clip in one half of the screen, and Safari opened in the other – sorry, this won't work, at least for now. Just like in most Android handsets that have multitasking – for an App to be available for split screen, it needs to be coded to allow it, and most apps for iOS still are not.



Picture-in-picture - something every iPad user has dreamed of


This is yet another cool feature, which should theoretically allow you to consume your favorite video media, while also checking emails, or doing whatever else you enjoy doing on your iPad. Picture-in-picture is activated by a new button, which can be found in the bottom-right of the iOS video player. When you tap it, the video “pops out” of its frame and starts floating above anything you do on the screen. You can swipe it off-screen for a few seconds, if you need the real estate, close it, or pop it back in its place by pressing the reverse version of the p-i-p button.

And yes, this means that if you are watching clips through something that doesn't activate the iOS video player — YouTube is a good example — you will not be able to enjoy picture-in-picture. Pro-tip – if you play a YouTube video from a link that's embedded on another website, and not on www.youtube.com, you will get the iOS player; most 3rd party YouTube players will use the iOS video player. Ergo – the picture-in-picture functionality can be used for YouTube clips if you use a 3rd party app.

The best thing about it? Picture-in-picture is available on iPad Air / mini 2 / mini 3!


Conclusion


If you own an iPad Air or iPad mini 3 and are worried that might be missing out by not having Split View, you can put that thought to rest. The true multitasking experience is almost here — that's a fact — but there are still a couple of bumps in functionality, and and not a lot of apps support it just yet. It could be up to a year before upgrading just for Split View becomes a legitimate reason to throw away an iPad Air / mini 3.

Picture-in-picture and Slide Over are great features, readily available for use, and available on the older tablets – they already provide the meat of the iOS 9 multitasking experience. Split View currently feels like a bonus feature on the newer models, instead of a full-blown advantage.

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26 Comments

1. gaming64 unregistered

I'm gonna buy an iPad Air 2 just for this.

21. gustavoace

Posts: 187; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

That's a nice thing about Apple.... You get the newer software, but you don't get the features. And as the software appearance is almost the same, with the old features you actually have the old software. But again, adoption rate =D

2. Bm888

Posts: 517; Member since: Jul 06, 2015

I have been using all these multitasking features on my note 4..... (touchwiz)

9. darkkjedii

Posts: 31034; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Yeah, but this is an iOS article. No need to troll.

3. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

It seems good and it might be a reason to upgrade my Air 1. However I think I still prefer Samsung multi window, I can open YouTube whilst using another app and shrink the YouTube window to a size where you can barely see it and still hear the sound.

4. gaming64 unregistered

I also love how you can chat through Messenger outside the native app. Beauties of Android.

15. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

I think on Android N next year they will likely make multi-window official. It will probably leap frog Apple's implementation until iOS 10.

22. Diezparda

Posts: 941; Member since: Oct 23, 2013

If it happen then i'll may take nexus as primary device next year, nexus 5x/6p seems doing pretty good this year...

24. Mercedes-Benz

Posts: 403; Member since: Jan 18, 2015

Why not wait for the Air 3 instead , the air 2 is out for a while now

5. stanislav

Posts: 136; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Cuting futures from older devices is s**t!

6. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Slide Over is Apple version of Samsung Multi-window launchpad on older galaxy devices like the Note 3. When Multi-Window is enabled, there is a menu you slide over from the side which listed compatible apps that would work in multi-window. Samsung added a twist with the Note 4 where you could put the windows together you use most and save that as an icon which when clicked would launch both applications at the same time directly into multi-window. split view is just Apple's way to have 2 apps running side by side. Samsung offers device that alow you to split the window with 4 apps and resize any window at any given time and even release the window from the grid and take up the full screen and then back. You can also drag speific content from one application to another that support such. The only problem with Samsung's offering is, the devs who make apps for Android; don't develop any apps that take full advantage of these features like those same devs for Apple do. That is some Samsung needs to work on that Apple doesn't, is getting better development support.

7. Ninetysix

Posts: 2964; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

Did you just f***ing compliment Apple?

27. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

No directly. I simply stated a fact.

12. Topcat488

Posts: 1415; Member since: Sep 29, 2012

Multi-Window was enabled since the "Original Note"! What DO you know about Samsung's App Developers... Apple is playing catch-up, period. Sorry, but it seems like YOU, been drinking too much Apple Juice. O.o @Post #6

14. darkkjedii

Posts: 31034; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Multi window came out as an update in 2012, to the Note 2, then other devices got it.

16. wildfiregt

Posts: 179; Member since: Jun 10, 2013

It came as an update for the galaxy s3 in middle of 2012's summer

17. darkkjedii

Posts: 31034; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I'm aware.

25. Mercedes-Benz

Posts: 403; Member since: Jan 18, 2015

it might be a nice feature but 2012 hardware is not powerful enough to run it smoothly . i find it to be only responsive enough on the snapdragon 800 note three

26. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Like I said. When Apple realease a features, devs rush to support it right away. Samsung doesn't get this support. Samsung has been offering splitscreen for quite some time, yet the vast majority of the apps in Android dont specifically support this feature because it isnt an android feture, it is a TouchWiz feature and the app has to specifically be coded for TouchWiz support of such. if android offered this at the OS level, then yes more devs could support it. Many devs liek Facebook for example, have updated FB application to support multi-window. but samsung still has far less support vs what Apple will get. Just watch. In one year after the iPad splitview, more apps in the app store will be updated by devs to use the splitscreen vs the same devs supporting it on Galaxy devices. You can accept what I said or move om. Apple gets far better dev support. Even tho iOS SDK makes high quality apps, Java apps can be of similar quality. But those devs will make the Android version look liek crap. Example of equal. The Facebook app for Android looks just as good in quality as it does on iOS. Twitter app as well. But theer are many games which have betetr quality on iOS and the same dev did a crappy job with the same game on Android. One of my favorites is Pac-man Championship addition. Its an old game, but compare the quality of the 2. Even some top games i liek to play like Asphalt 8, could be much better on Android and it simply isnt.

8. Lycan155

Posts: 254; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

A move on the right direction for apple , cant wait to see them improve it more because right now touchwiz is better on this aspect , that is why for me i take android on tablets ( preferly samsung ) and iphones

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 31034; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Love both features. My Air 3 seems like a whole different device now.

13. darkkjedii

Posts: 31034; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Oops 2 lol

11. HTC_ONE_MAX

Posts: 168; Member since: Feb 06, 2015

In IOS 9 slide over button is more sensitive than notification button on my iPad mini.

18. Khyron

Posts: 397; Member since: Sep 28, 2015

Split view And slide over just like galaxy note from that came up on 2012

20. iMichael unregistered

Very innovative features!

23. 99nights

Posts: 1152; Member since: Mar 10, 2015

Nice feature yes, innovative certainly not.

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