iOS power-users and full screen on OS X

 Sample Screenshot as described from  @BenjaminZAMayo  .  Full credit to Benjamin - image links directly to his post.

Sample Screenshot as described from @BenjaminZAMayo. Full credit to Benjamin - image links directly to his post.

I was involved in a little conversation I came across through @fraserspeirs on Twitter last night about upgrades to iOS for more powerful use-cases. @BenjaminZAMayo put up a great post on his blog about an option for a split screen solution for iOS (namely the iPad). With a very smart approach, something that reminded me of the people who started coming up with a solution to how Apple was going to increase the resolution from the 3Gs to the 4 when they went 'retina' and scaling). His solution is that essentially, one of the side apps would only be the width of an iPhone screen so the only item developers would have to worry about is the length of the screen. A very neat solution to the concept.

 

But to be honest, I'm not sure it's actually necessary. On the iPad, I find going full-screen is the best solution. Backing up a bit, I'm one of those users that has been attempting to go all in with using full-screen apps on my Macbook Air after it was introduced into OS X. Taking the concept from iOS, Apple attempted to use the same full-screen format for it's benefits - removing distractions, etc - on a larger device. Having seen it on a big iMac screen, I'm not so sure it's optimum for except for media professionals working on big images/video, but on a smaller screen, I'm finding that it's working quite well for numerous tasks. Take this very blog for example: I'm full screen in Chrome to remove all clutter and potential distractions (not to mention I've disabled all notifications in Notification Centre). And, you know, it works. It's a good solution when focusing purely on a task.

But it's not a perfect solution. Jumping out of an app to go to another is not as intuitive as on iOS - that is, press home button, select new app, repeat. Dragging a mouse to bottom of the screen, or swiping fingers up for Mission Control, or Cmd-Tabbing through open apps, just isn't as intuitive. It doesn't suit the format of the device and it's primary entry method of keyboard and mouse.

And for the opposite reasons, I'm not sure split screen on iOS will be as intuitive either. @BenjaminZAMayo method is neat (very similar in concept to Windows 8 snapping feature) but for me, the use case is not the same. On my iPhone or using an iPad*, I like having just one screen open. Maybe I'm wrong but I'm not sure it's a use case that 'works' for the iPad. I keep hearing more and more stories/requests/clamours for inter-app communication (outside of the limited almost-exporting of files between apps) which does make sense to me as an improvement to iOS to improve it's capability - "iPad hardware is outstripping the capabilities of the OS it runs" (a great quote from linked article). I'm not necessarily sure it's completely out-stripping it, or whether Apple is purposely keeping it's ease-of-use absolute priority over functionality, but I do know that in it's current guise, it seems it will be difficult to improve on the hardware. But maybe by increasing the capabilities of the software, more powerful hardware will be required........

In relation to iOS, the big visual change occurred last year with iOS so I'm guessing there's some tidying up to do with consistency and parts that don't work as envisioned, but that it will leave priority to go towards software and features (ideas such as Benjamin's ideas for pop-over panels allowing some sort of integration between apps). What I also hope is Apple has bigger priorities in software right now like fixing many of the bugs showing up in OS X, and even removing some of the bugs introduced in iOS7 (I've never had an iPhone reset until iOS7 was installed....). One of the main reasons iOS did so well as a computer-hidden-in-a-phone was due to it covering up random crashes of software and visible computer-like errors and warnings. But that's a write-up for another blog post :)

 

*I'm amazed to say that I don't own an iPad myself. Yet. All experiences are through uses of friends and family, and my own iPhone use-cases.

Neal McQuaid