Now that we’re seeing more iOS 9 app updates hitting the store, more of you will probably have had the chance to use apps in Slide Over and Split View mode. As a reminder, here are the basics of how these features work:
- Slide Over loads an app in a compact, iPhone-like view over your current app; they are not loaded simultaneously. Think of Slide Over like dragging a smaller piece of paper over a larger one.
- Split View is true multitasking, but only on iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro. You can run two apps side by side, with one app taking the majority of the space, or two apps sharing the screen equally.
- Both modes are activated with a slide-in gesture along the right side of the screen
- Switching out a Slide Over or Split View app requires a downward swipe in the top-right corner, which reveals a single column of compatible app icons to choose from
- Apps won’t work in Slide Over or Split View unless they’ve been specifically updated to do so
It took me a little while to remember to use these multitasking features, especially since banners and the ‘back’ button already aid in a lot of my multitasking needs. However, there’s no question that revealing an iMessage conversation with one swipe is a very powerful feature. I tend to use Slide Over more than Split View — but that’s probably because only a handful of my daily apps have received iOS 9 updates. I’m still waiting on Evernote, Paper, 2Do, and others.
However, one thing that I’ve wondered about this interface is how well it will scale. It was easy to use during the iOS 9 beta because only Apple’s own apps would show up in the Slide View bar. In other words, there really weren’t that many to choose from, and there were only so many useful combinations. Notes and Safari, Photos and iMessage, or Reminders and iMessage were really the only apps I would to run side by side. However, expanding that selection to include third-party apps changes a lot, and the UI for selecting Slide Over apps doesn’t scale — it just becomes a longer list.
This isn’t too bad if I’ve just been switching between a few apps for Slide Over, but what about the times I’d like to use Reminders and Safari…but Reminders is a good 10–20 apps up the list? The unfortunate answer is: a lot of scrolling. I have over 33 apps that are compatible with Slide Over, and they aren’t sorted in alphabetical order. I think a one-colum interface is the wrong way to go about tackling this issue.
As such, I think this will be one of the first UI changes that Apple makes to iOS 9. I think the interface should remain very simple: no search function or folders should be necessary. Simply displaying two or three columns instead of icons would do a lot more for users than showing just one. Apple would have to balance this system out to make sure it doesn’t look too visually cluttered, but if the icons were small enough, I think it could work.
Anyone have suggestions for how to improve this situation, or is this just a UI nuance we’ll get used to quickly?