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Inside iOS 11: Run four iPad apps on screen at once with Apple's newly expanded multitasking

Multitasking capabilities on the iPad have gone up to 11 (or, to be more exact, four) in iOS 11, giving users the power to run more apps onscreen at once than ever before.




Editor's note: this article was first run in June during the iOS 11 beta process. It has been updated to reflect the official release of the operating system.

The newly expanded dock in iOS 11 allows users to drag and drop apps onto the screen. Dragging an app to the edge of the display, while another app is already open, snaps it into split view, allowing two apps affixed onscreen at once.

Anyone who has used split view in iOS 10 will be instantly familiar with this. But in iOS 11, users can now add a third app to the screen in slide over mode.



To take advantage of this, place an app in slide over mode before you put two apps in split view. Open a single app, then drag a second one from the dock, but don't drag it all the way to the edge of the screen. Simply drop the app over the existing app to view it in slide over mode.

Once an app is in slide over, you can swipe it toward the right to get rid of it, and then pull from the right side of the screen to peek at it —again, this works just like it did in iOS 10. But in iOS 11, the app stored in slide over can now be viewed even while working in split view.




You can even add a fourth app to the mix in video form thanks to picture-in-picture mode, also a carry-over from iOS 10 made more powerful in iOS 11.

With picture-in-picture, split view, and slide over invoked all at once, users can now display four tasks on screen at the same time on an iPad.

Making iOS even more powerful, the new app switching screen with Control Center —which can be accessed by double pressing the home button, or sliding four fingers up on the screen —remembers apps that are paired in split view. This is dubbed "App Spaces."




For professional users, the combination of all of these features makes the iPad Pro much more powerful and capable. Users an easily switch between split views of Safari and Slack; Calendar and Mail; and Twitter and Notes; all while the Music app is easily available in slide over and live TV from Spectrum cable streams in the corner via picture in picture.

In AppleInsider's testing both in the beta and with the full release of iOS 11, using four apps at once on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro was fluid, and all four tasks could be interacted with while displayed on screen. An older 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 was also capable of four tasks at once, but with a small caveat: When slide over is invoked, it is the only app on the screen that can be interacted with, leaving the "background" tasks grayed out. It's unclear whether this is a limitation of the iPad Air 2 processor, or its smaller screen size.