Before the iPad gained Split View in iOS 9, we were relegated to using one app at a time. Gestures to switch and close apps weren’t enough. It was cumbersome. It was like having several books on the table for research, but every time you wanted to switch titles, you had to shut it and move it aside to make room for the next one.
Split View and Slide Over have grown in iPadOS 13 to allow more than two apps side-by-side plus a smaller “iPhone-sized” rendering in Slide Over. Now, you can drag an array of apps into slide over, giving you numerous tools at your disposal for things like research.
In addition, you can also drag multiple instances of an app into Slide Over and/or Split View. Bouncing from site-to-site as you research your next novel? Outlining in Notes as you reference a webpage or two? Or maybe you already have your outline completed in Notes and now you’re ready to get writing in Scrivener or Ulysses—you can have a text editor window open on one side, a web page open on the other, an Apple Note in a handy Slide Over window.
And it works for almost any app. Some apps still need to be updated to allow for Apple’s new Multiple Spaces functionality, but ever since iOS 13’s release, updates have been coming quickly.
And if you get overwhelmed or want to figure out where a particular app’s window has gone, bring up the dock and tap the app’s icon to access App Exposé, which will allow you to see all available windows for a specific app.
Overall, Split View, Slide Over, and App Exposé work well. I do have a few minor issues, however. First, switching text fields between two apps in Split View is frustrating. For example, if I’ve been working in Pages on the left and decide to type a new URL in Safari on the right, I can’t just tap in the address bar in Safari and start typing. I need to grab the top of the screen on the right-hand side, “jiggle” the window up and down to make it the active window, then tap the address bar and begin typing. I hope Apple fixes this in a future update. I should be able to just tap from one side to the next to switch active windows without added friction.
Secondly, grabbing an app from the dock and dragging it to one side or into Slide Over takes too long and is too temperamental. It requires bringing up the dock (which, if done too quickly, can close the active window(s) instead), then tapping and holding for just long enough to make the icon draggable, then choosing where I’d like the app’s window to appear. Hold too long and the app’s contextual menu appears. Don’t hold long enough and the icon doesn’t go anywhere.
However, these minor quibbles don’t detract from the fact that the Split View/Slide Over/App Exposé trifecta is a large part of what makes the iPad so much more viable as a laptop replacement than before. I’m looking forward to seeing these features grown and change in future updates.