Sarah Perez, reporting for TechCrunch, on the effect iOS 9 multitasking had on MLB’s At Bat app since they added support for Split View and Picture in Picture two months ago:
During these first two weeks, MLB fans spent 20 percent more minutes per day, on average, watching live video on iPad compared with the 2015 season, when multitasking was not available. (MLB says that any form of multitasking behavior was counted here, not just spilt-screen viewing.)
In addition, fans who were using the new multitasking features and watching live video of MLB games in the At Bat application were spending 162 minutes per day on average consuming MLB.TV on iPad. That’s an increase of 86 percent from the 2015 season.
Picture in Picture fundamentally transforms the video experience of an iPad. Now imagine if two of the biggest video services around also realized this.
Four years ago, I struggled to move from a Mac to an iPad. Today, I only have to open my MacBook once a week. And I wish I didn’t have to.
In February 2015, after years of experiments and workarounds, I shared the story of how the iPad Air 2 became my primary computer. The article, while unsurprising for MacStories readers who had been following my iPad coverage since 2012, marked an important milestone in my journey towards being Mac-free.
As I wrote last year:
Three years ago, as I was undergoing cancer treatments, I found myself in the position of being unable to get work done with a Mac on a daily basis because I wasn’t always home, at my desk. I was hospitalized for several weeks or had to spend entire days waiting to talk to doctors. I couldn’t write or manage MacStories because I couldn’t do those tasks on my iPhone and I couldn’t take my MacBook with me. I’d often go weeks without posting anything to the website – not even a short link – because I couldn’t do it from my bed. I began experimenting with the iPad as a device to work from anywhere and, slowly but steadily, I came up with ways to speed up my workflow and get things done on iOS. I promised myself I’d never let a desk set my work schedule or performance anymore.
Being tied to a desktop computer isn’t an option for me. No matter what life has in store for the future, I have to be ready to work from anywhere. I have to consider the possibility that I won’t always be okay, working from the comfort of my living room. That means having a computer that can follow me anywhere, with a screen big enough to type on, and a higher degree of portability than a MacBook. That means using an iPad. That means iOS.
The past 12 months have cemented this vision and raised new questions. But, more importantly, the iPad and iOS 9 have been essential to launching a project I’ve been working on for years.
At this point, I can’t imagine using a computer that isn’t an iPad anymore.
To my knowledge, the release of Night Shift in iOS 9.3 is only the second time in recent history Apple has updated iOS to include a change or feature that has potential accessibility ramifications. The other occurrence, in my mind, was iOS 7.1 beta 2, released in 2013. In it, Apple added a Button Shapes option to Accessibility as a way to assuage users who have trouble distinguishing an actionable button from a text label. Generally, however, any significant additions or changes to the Accessibility feature set comes included with a major new version of iOS. That is to say, the version Craig Federighi talks about at the annual WWDC keynote.
Before getting into Night Shift’s accessibility merit, it’s worth examining why it exists. The impetus for Night Shift is better sleep. Apple explains in its marketing material for iOS 9.3 that a person’s circadian rhythm can be disrupted by the “bright blue light” emitted from an iPhone or iPad’s screen, making it difficult to fall asleep. What Night Shift does to combat this, according to Apple, is “use your iOS device’s clock and geolocation to determine when it’s sunset in your location.” After gathering that data, the software then “automatically shifts the colors in your display to the warmer end of the spectrum.” The end result is a display that’s easier on the eyes, thus hopefully making it easier to fall asleep. (The display settings will revert to normal in the morning. There’s an option to schedule Night Shift as well.) For more on why Night Shift is important and how it works, iMore has posted a good explainer on the feature.
The off-cycle release of major new features in iOS 9.3 is quite a departure for Apple. The usual cycle until now has been for major releases to debut at WWDC in the summer and ship in September/October. For the education market, however, this schedule has been extremely difficult to deal with. School usually starts in August or September - in the northern hemisphere at least - and having a major platform upgrade happen right after school starts is hard to cope with.
That has all been turned on its head. On January 11th, Apple announced the developer beta release of iOS 9.3. Unusually for a developer beta, Apple also produced the kind of iOS preview webpages that are normally seen in the time between the WWDC announcement of a new major iOS version and its eventual release.
When iOS 9 launched in September, it was easy to understand the potential of Picture in Picture: for the first time, iPad users could continue watching a video in the background through a floating media player capable of coexisting with other apps – it could even stay on screen during Split View.
As I cautioned in my review, however, it was also obvious to see how big media companies wouldn’t like Picture in Picture: by stripping them of control over player customization, Picture in Picture would provide a universal way to watch videos across iOS with the system video player, which comes with specific restrictions and media limitations. This is the reason why the likes of YouTube and Netflix haven’t implemented Picture in Picture yet: relying on Apple’s Picture in Picture player would force them to relinquish control of custom player buttons, ads, or other content overlaid on top of videos that can’t be shown in the Picture in Picture box.
Four months later, the lack of iPad Pro and Picture in Picture support in the official YouTube app is a daily annoyance that has only been partly remedied by third-party YouTube clients like YouPlayer or ProTube. Today, those wishing for a simpler way to watch YouTube videos in Picture in Picture without having to use a separate client will find a solid solution in PipTube, released on the App Store at $1.99.
CoreDragon is a new open source library for iOS developers created by Nevyn Bengsston designed to bring multitouch drag & drop to iOS 9:
The eighties solved this with another piece of direct manipulation: drag and drop. Today, I bring the eighties right back into 2016 with my new open source library CoreDragon. CoreDragon lets you get rid of context menus, modal interactions and even copy paste, by allowing you to mark some areas of your application as things that can be dragged; and other areas as places where you can drop things.
The key feature of CoreDragon is support for dragging and dropping content between apps in Split View on iPad:
CoreDragon uses similar concepts as the drag’n’ drop APIs on MacOS, and modifies them to work better in a world with view controllers. It works within a single application, and on modern iPads, between applications that are running in split screen mode.
Take a look at the video Nevyn put together to demonstrate drag & drop in Split View. This isn’t the first time I’ve come across this idea, and it’s extremely close to what I imagine Apple will eventually add to the iPad platform.
As I mentioned in my iOS 9 review, drag & drop is an interaction paradigm ripe for being reimagined by multitouch. Using the clipboard and extensions to transfer content between two apps running simultaneously is feeling outdated at this point, and I want to believe something similar to CoreDragon is in the works for the future of iOS. Nevyn has some interesting ideas on how to augment traditional drag & drop with multitouch, too.
Earlier today, Apple released the first developer beta of iOS 9.3, which will introduce several new functionalities for built-in apps and for education users. To highlight some of the changes in this release, Apple has launched a mini-site with screenshots and descriptions of what’s coming in iOS 9.3.
I find the iOS Videos app frustrating to use. It’s almost unbelievable that in the 9th major version of the OS it’s missing what seem to be some pretty basic features. However, this also means that it should’t be hard to make it a lot better:
This is a great list of suggestions for the built-in Videos app by Michael Tsai.
The Videos app strikes me as one of the most outdated Apple apps across iOS – it was updated with a basic UI refresh for iOS 7, but its functionality largely remained unchanged. There’s a chasm between the video experiences on Apple platforms – with the new Apple TV now out of the door, I think a complete revamp of the iOS Videos app should be taken in consideration this year.
I first came across Copied a few days after its release in late October. Developed by Kevin Chang, Copied is a clipboard manager for iOS and OS X with iCloud sync and a polished interface – a fairly standard set of features, I first thought when looking at the app’s product page.
Over the subsequent couple of weeks, Copied played an essential role in helping me assemble my coverage of the iPad Pro, and it has since gained a permanent spot on my Home screen on both the iPhone and iPad. Copied has become my favorite way to quickly exchange bits of text and images between devices with iCloud, transfer URLs and templates I use for in-depth reviews and Club MacStories, and more.
On the surface, Copied may appear like another clipboard manager for iOS; however, several nice touches in the app break new ground in this category, and I consider Copied one of the best app debuts of 2015.