Apple may add split-screen multitasking feature to iOS 8, report says

The new iPad Air is displayed on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, in Stanford, Calif.
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Apple may soon be adding a split screen function to its popular iPad tablet in its next version of iOS, allowing for diehard multitaskers to view two apps at the same time.

Citing unnamed sources, 9to5Mac reported that Apple is planning to match Microsoft Surface's multitasking "snap" feature, which allows users to view multiple apps on a single screen. It is reportedly coming out with iOS 8, which is expected to be unveiled at next month's Worldwide Developers Conference.

This is one Apple rumor that may -- or may not -- have many multitaskers running for the iPad tablet. It is worth noting that both Samsung and Microsoft tablets already have this feature, and it has been touted as a reason to forsake the iPad in competitors' commercials. However, Microsoft's ability to multitask has not translated to larger sales, as the Surface had only 2.1 percent of the worldwide market share in 2013, according to analytics firm Gartner.

The tablet industry as a whole has seen sales slowing. Earlier this month, the International Data Corporation reported that worldwide tablet sales slipped to 50.4 million units in the first quarter of 2014.

According to the IDC, Apple maintained its lead in the worldwide tablet market, but still shipped fewer units, resulting in a market share of 32.5 percent, down from a share of 33.2 percent previously. Long-time rival Samsung grew its worldwide share, increasing from 17.2 percent last quarter to 22.3 percent.

The rumored split-screen function has been requested by iPad users for many years, according to the 9to5Mac report. Some have designed sample user-interfaces to show Apple how it should work or developed unofficial iOS jailbreaks to gain this function.

The feature is said to be designed for the larger iPad, and it is not clear whether it will be available for the iPad mini, 9to5Mac notes, working exclusively in landscape mode.

The Apple rumor mill has been going nonstop over the last few months, with recent reports speaking of an iWatch made by Nike and Apple's possible acquisition of Beats. There have also been new reports of possible Apple wearables including environmental sensors, and larger screen sizes for a future iPhone 6.