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iPadOS 16 could introduce big multitasking changes for iPad

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) on a desk
(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Henry T. Casey)

WWDC 2022 is shaping up to potentially turn into quite the show for laptops. Apple could announce the new MacBook Air 2022 at its developer conference, according to some rumors. And the new version of the company's iPad software could make the tablet operate more like a computer.

That's the forecast from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman (opens in new tab), who reports that multitasking features will be a primary focus for iPadOS 16, a new version of the iPad software that Apple is expected to preview at WWDC next week. Specifically, iPadOS 16 is tipped to introduce multitasking features that would make jumping between apps similar to how that works on a Mac.

The iPad has supported multitasking for a while now, but it's limited to a few specific methods. The iPad's Split View feature lets you run apps side by side, with the ability to adjust which one takes up more screen space by dragging a slider. Slide Over allows a second app to appear in a smaller floating window. Some apps also support Center Window, which lets you focus on specific items like notes and emails.

According to the Bloomberg report, iPad users are demanding more flexibility when it comes to multitasking. At the same time, the chipsets powering Apple's tablets are getting more muscle — the iPad Pro and iPad Air both feature the M1 chipset Apple also uses in some laptops (including the current MacBook Air).

Gurman's report says that iPadOS 16 will introduce a redesigned multitasking interface, a move that would come a year after iPadOS 15 included a new button to more easily jump into Split View or Slide Over modes. The new version of iPadOS would aim to make it even easier to see which apps open and to switch between them.

There are few further details in the Bloomberg report, other than the claim that iPad owners will be able to resize app windows similar to how things work in macOS. That backs up an earlier report of more desktop-like multitasking features arriving on the iPad via iPadOS 16.

It would certainly make sense for Apple to bolster multitasking capabilities on its tablets, which the company essentially touts as a computer replacement in its advertising. To live up to that promise — and to keep a step ahead of Android tablets — the iPad would need to do a better job letting you use multiple apps at once.

iPadOS 16 is just one of several software updates likely to appear at WWDC, which runs from June 6 to June 10 next week. iOS 16, watchOS 9, macOS 13 and tvOS 16 are also likely to get previews in advance of their full release later this year.

See our guide on how to watch the WWDC 2022 live stream to follow along with all of Apple's announcements during the June 6 keynote. That event begins at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.