The iPad is a great product, but its current OS only allows one to run and display one user app at a time. Aqua Eagle’s Desktop app allows one to display any two of its selected modules at one time. For example, one can simultaneously view a website and a dictionary. Or even two websites simultaneously.
Until iPhone OS 4.0 arrives, iPad users have to quit one app and launch another. That’s fine for the iPhone, where the ostensible logic is that one can only do one thing at a time with a smartphone’s relatively small display. However, the size and power of the iPad begs for being able to present multiple apps on the screen at the same time.
With Desktop you can do that.
You can chose to display any two of the following modules, and they can be duplicated if necessary.
- Calculator (simple four-function)
- Currency Converter
- E-mail composer
- Disk, memory statistics
- Translator (text, human language to language)
- Unit Converter
Other modules can remain running, however, you’re limited to displaying two. The interface couldn’t be simpler. On the upper left side, you pick the two modules. On the right side you select how the screen is to be split. Only the modules offered can be selected, so you don’t have access to just any iPad app. That’s about it for the UI.
If you like, you can make the two modules the same. That can come in handy of you need to view two different websites simultaneously. Another nice mode is to split the screen vertically in portrait mode. That way, you can browse and compose an e-mail at the same time. There are many more possibilities.
I asked the developer, Dan Yadgar, about the philosophy of having each module take up all of 50 percent of the screen, with its own background. That is, instead of letting the module float on the iPad’s desktop.
“I can see both advantages and limitations to this new design. First, you have the limitation that only two utiltiies can be seen at a time (although within the same session you can have more than two open and switch between them - but you will only be able to see two at once). We do not believe this to be a big disadvantage, because the resolution of the iPad probably makes a combination of 3 or more at a time impractical in most cases. Another issue with this design is that a couple of the tools that we included that did not really need so much screen real-estate now occupy a complete panel (example: the calculator).
“However, there are also many advantages to the design, which in my opinion make up for the limitations:
The developer states that new modules are coming in version 1.1: world clock, compass and notes editor. A notes editor combined with a dictionary on the same display could be a very handy writing combo.
Desktop from Aqua Eagle is a modest app at a modest price that can solve a set of unique problems for certain users. It’s worth serious consideration for your iPad suite of apps.