In the years I’ve spent working on iPad as my primary computer, I’ve learned to appreciate the platform’s advantages over the Mac (a richer app ecosystem and superior modularity, for instance), and I’ve accepted its limitations. Despite the advances in the past 18 months with iPadOS 14, the Magic Keyboard, and iPadOS 15, there are still several areas where iPadOS falls short: I can’t record podcasts on it with the setup I like (unless I deal with some ridiculous cable shenanigans); the Files app still lacks Finder features such as smart folders or the ability to navigate into hidden folders; and, due to Apple’s restrictions, iPad utilities like clipboard managers can’t run persistently in the background like they can on a Mac.
While I continue to believe Apple will have to address these issues in the next iterations of iPadOS, Matthias Gansrigler didn’t want to wait for Apple to let his clipboard manager Yoink run continuously in the background and automatically capture anything the user copies to the system clipboard. So, using a clever workaround made by possible by new APIs introduced in iOS and iPadOS 15, he figured out how to turn Yoink – already a capable and modern clipboard manager and shelf app – into a “true” clipboard manager that, like those you may have seen on macOS, can monitor everything you copy and automatically save it for you. The result is unlike anything else I’ve seen on iOS and iPadOS, and it unlocks the kind of flexibility and peace of mind I’ve long missed from macOS. It’s almost too good to be true, and I hope I won’t cause any trouble by writing about it.
iOS Multitasking Lag
Benjamin Mayo, elaborating on a tweet by our Graham Spencer about a “delay” that occurs when switching between apps using multitouch gestures on the iPad:
The reason for this delay is linked to how iOS ‘freezes’ background applications; the period of inactivity experienced is relative to the time it takes to unfreeze the desired application. For the Settings app, the time necessary to become active is negligible, so it feels instantaneous, but for more complicated apps (like Mail) the thawing process takes longer and becomes noticeable in use. Until that point, touches do nothing because you are effectively looking at a screenshot of the application when you were last open — the app doesn’t receive any touch events at this stage.
Using the iPad every day, I, too, think this is one of the most annoying aspects of relying on the device for work stuff. While Open In would certainly top the list for many people, personally I am more annoyed by that slight delay that occurs every time I switch back and forth between two apps with the four-finger multitasking gesture. The most common scenario is copying bits of text or URLs from a browser and swiping back to a text editor or Evernote to paste them; after swiping, I can’t bring up the Copy & Paste menu instantly, because, like Benjamin says, the app is “suspended” and therefore unresponsive to taps. It is a very specific and minor annoyance, but one that, over time, becomes a detriment to the overall experience. As Graham noted, this doesn’t happen on a Mac, and it shouldn’t happen on an iPad either.
I have also noticed that the iPad mini tends to “flush” apps from memory far more frequently than my iPad 3 did. This happens with any kind of app, but it’s annoying when Safari or Chrome have to reload every tab even if I only switched between 2 or 3 apps; I suppose it’s related to the inferior nature of the iPad mini’s hardware when compared to the latest iPad 3rd and 4th generation models.
I honestly don’t care about seeing “multiple apps” on the iPad’s screen, but I’d love for Apple to find a way to make iOS multitasking less aggressive without compromising battery life, making the process of moving between apps instantaneous as it is on OS X.
In what can only be described as borderline ridiculous, but a very awesome tweak, Aaron Ash has managed to hack together a way in which two iPhone apps can run side by side on the iPad. In a blog post, Ash makes it clear that at this stage it is only really a proof of concept, not yet ready for a public release. In particular there are some bugs that are preventing audio from playing and accelerometer data from being detected by the apps.
The bottom right button turns on “edit mode” which allows you to rearrange applications, and rotate them (Angry Birds normally runs in landscape, here they’re turned). I’m debating on if I should go for the typical desktop feel or make it more SpringBoard-like and keep apps in preset locations.
Nonetheless he says he managed to “waste plenty of time already playing 2 games of Angry Birds at the same time” on the same screen. In fact he managed at one stage to play 3 at a time, which worked until he added a fourth, which crashed the tweak. He notes that “performance is actually pretty good, definitely useable” but with those bugs he says he probably wont release it for a few months. That said, he does note that he might show the tweak off at the jailbreak meetup in New York that is happening on Saturday, July 10th.
If you own a jailbroken iPhone, you don’t mind trying new tweaks and you’ve been looking for yet another way to modify the look of Apple’s iOS multitasking UI, there’s a new app called PhySwitch available in the Cydia Store that I’ve been positively impressed with over the past week and decided to keep installed on my device. Just like Multifl0w, PhySwitch presents running apps as windows, rather than icons. But unlike the aforementioned hack, PhySwitch doesn’t scroll through windows horizontally, like you would do on a computer or larger screen: considering the nature of the iPhone’s display, developer Pedro Franceschi opted for a vertical solution that makes much more sense on the iPhone, and uses the volume keys to let you cycle through apps. You can bring PhySwitch’s fast app switcher in the foreground with an Activator command you, and after that you’ll be able to quickly browse apps with the volume keys, or a vertical swipe. It’s really simple and, for some reason, I’ve come to use it on a daily basis.
The tweak’s not perfect (apps don’t come in the foreground immediately, as PhySwitch goes back to the homescreen for a second and re-launches the app you selected) and could use some speed improvements, especially for the opening animation. However, I think it’s a very clever hack that’s very easy to use and accessible. Get it in the Cydia Store, and check out the demo video below.
In a recent article on his personal blog, Lukas Mathis argues that the iPad’s multitasking doesn’t actually help people get things done and focus more as it forces you to constantly switch between apps. He writes:
a task (or an app) on a computer, and a task performed by a human don’t map to each other one-to-one. In fact, a single task performed by a human can easily make use of several applications running concurrently on a computer.
For example, right now, I’m typing this text in Notational Velocity, and I’m looking at the New York Times in a browser. The computer is showing me two windows at the same time. It is multitasking. I, however, am not. I’m absolutely focused on writing this essay. In fact, the computer’s multitasking is precisely what allows me to focus on writing my essay. I can type text into this window while looking at the Times article in another window without being forced to interrupt my task, and consciously switch between apps.
This is a common point being raised by people curious to try out iOS, but afraid it won’t help them be productive: “can I see multiple apps at once”? No, with iOS you can’t. And the way I see it, there’s good reason to enforce this implementation. First off, let’s consider the devices iOS runs on: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Apple TV. The Apple TV 2nd gen doesn’t exactly have apps and I don’t understand why would anyone want to see multiple photos and movies at once. The iPhone and iPod touch? The screen is so small (in spite of high resolution) I honestly can’t believe some people are exploring the possibility of seeing multiple apps on a single screen. It doesn’t make sense. Read more
For those completely obsessed iPhone users who literally cannot take their eyes off the phone there is a new app made for you; MegaReader. In it’s latest update (version 2.1) it’s developers have added a feature that allows you to experience real life multitasking by reading and walking at the same time so that you never have to take your eyes off your iPhone again!
All it does is overlay the text on a live video feed of what’s in front of the phone and is similar to the Samsung Galaxy app that allows you to text and walk and the iPhone app Email ‘n Walk, which as the name suggests overlays an email client over the live video feed!
Click through to see MegaReader’s developers demonstrate the new feature to its full potential!
Noteshelf is, in my opinion, the best handwriting app for the iPad. As I wrote in my review in October, of all the note taking and handwriting apps for iPad I had tried Noteshelf managed to stand out because of its excellent wrist protection mode, smooth digital ink, templates and overall UI design. The first version of Noteshelf was good, but the 2.1 one was even better as the developer added Evernote and Dropbox support, finer ink, more notebooks.
I have been using Noteshelf for months and haven’t really looked back. Plus, it works great with my Pogo Sketch and the AluPen review unit I got last week. Read more
Backgrounder, the popular hack that brought multitasking to iOS 3.x devices and now allows you to take control of how apps run in the background on iOS 4, has been updated to support iOS 4.2.1.
Compatibility with the latest OS aside, version svn.r558-1, adds bug fixes and comes with a new installation method for iOS versions that don’t support Backgrounder.
Backgrounder is available for free in BigBoss’ repository.
Air Video is one of our favorite iOS apps here at MacStories. Not only does the app come with a nice icon and polished interface, the real deal’s about the functionality: Air Video allows you to effortlessly stream any video from your computer to the iPhone or iPad – even with live conversion. No matter the format, no matter how big the file is (seriously, you can try with music videos or 3GB movie files), Air Video will stream to iOS just fine.
An update to the app was released yesterday, and it’s a pretty sweet update: Air Video 2.4.2 now comes with Retina Display-ready graphics, support for iOS 4.2 multitasking, performance improvements and enhanced file sorting capabilities.
An already must-have app basically got a lot better with these new features, so if you still don’t own Air Video, go buy it right now in the App Store at $2.99. Also, check out a video below of Erica Sadun from TUAW demoing a custom version of Air Video with AirPlay support. We can’t wait for Apple to open up its APIs and allow third-party apps like Air Video to stream to the Apple TV. Read more