Desktop App = A Little Bit of ‘Multitasking’ on the iPad

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Desktop iPad app

New Desktop app lets you ‘multitask’ on the iPad

OK, so this is not real multitasking.  Let’s get that out of the way right off.  The new Desktop app for the iPad does not suddenly make it possible to run multiple apps at once on the iPad.  But … it does let you use a series of useful widgets within the app itself that will allow you to multitask while using it.

So, for example, you can have a Maps widget open at the same time as a Calculator widget when trying to calculate a journey time. Or have a browser widget open at the same time as one for composing a new email, and copy and paste between the two and send a mail without leaving the app.

The app has three viewing modes: side by side, top-down (one panel above the other), and full screen (which shows a single widget at a time). It supports both portrait and landscape modes.

Here are the widgets included in the app:

✓    Web Browser (featuring Visual Bookmarks)
✓    English Dictionary (powered by Wiktionary)
✓    Calculator
✓    Language Translator (46 languages)
✓    Currency Converter (60+ currencies)
✓    Maps (with Geolocation)
✓    Email Composer
✓    US Weather (location-enabled)
✓    Unit Converter (with 100+ units)
✓    Device Stats (Memory and Disk)

The app’s UI is basic and easy to use.  You tap at the top left to choose widgets to use in the left and right (or top and bottom) panels, and to swap them at any time.

The ability to copy and paste between the two panels is a strong point for the app of course.

Here’s a few examples of the widgets in action, so to speak:

Grabbing some text from its browser and pasting into a new email:

Desktop for iPad

The Device Stats widget and the Calculator side by side …

Desktop iPad app

And a scenario I’m sure you all come across very often – the need to translate the word ‘basketball’ while browsing the web …

Desktop app on iPad

A few little things that could be improved or added to enhance the app:

— The browser doesn’t recognize bookmarks from Safari.  If this is an Apple restriction, then fair enough – if not, that would be nice to have added.

— When you go to full screen viewing mode on one panel, there’s an arrow button at the top left to switch between panels that occupy the whole screen.  It would be much slicker if this could be done via a swipe action.

— You can only use two panels at a time within the app.  It might be nice to have further options to use smaller panels and fit three or four in.

— More widgets would be nice as well. 

Overall, I like the Desktop app a fair bit.  It’s well executed and easy to use.  I’m not sure how often I’ll end up using it, but it is nice to know it’s around.

You can find the Desktop app in the App Store now, priced at $0.99.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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10 thoughts on “Desktop App = A Little Bit of ‘Multitasking’ on the iPad”

  1. I like this app. Obviously, with more widgets and-what-not, it would be more useful, but being able to split up all this lovely screen real-estate is nice. And at 99 cents – can't really argue too much. I'm sure it will get updated and become more useful!

  2. I was looking for a simple calculator app and this includes one. The fact it has a unit converter is a bonus since those are two things I use quite a bit. The only thing I would add is a running total/tape for the calculator and a simple notepad. Those four things in four separate panels would be great.

    I'm sure a simple Twitter client and Facebook connect thing wouldn't be too hard to add. A lot of those "50 apps in 1" utilities have those. In fact, if one of those companies used the dashboard style for one of those multi-apps it would be great. I'm sure someone will put one out eventually.

  3. At the moment, you can only view two panels at once. I've updated the post to mention that, and add the possibility of more panels to the small wish list.

  4. Can you have the same widget open on both sides? Like if I want to run 2 different web pages?

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