Apple May Finally Be Ready to Reinvigorate the iPad

Apple is brilliant at building user interfaces. One essential element in that practice is to have a vision. But sometimes the vision doesn't work out in the real world, and Apple engineers have to backtrack. In the case of iOS on an iPad, Apple's obsession with the one app at-a-time on a 9.7-inch display is not serving the customer well and likely limiting sales.

iPad Air 2. Image credit: Apple

The iPad has evolved in hardware and software maturity, but one thing that Apple has held to steadfastly is that we should only be presented with the GUI of one app at a time. That makes the iPad simple to understand and to use, but it limits the growth potential.

Recall the earliest days of the Apple II and PCs, we only had one 80 x 24 display of characters. Personal computing took a giant leap forward when the graphics power of GPUs allowed the OS to work in multiple windows. It's a paradigm that endures to this day.

At 9to5MacMark Gurman reports that Apple will finally break out of its old ways of thinking and reinvigorate the iPad.

Apple is developing a dual-app viewing mode, 12-inch iPads codenamed “J98″ and “J99,” as well as support for multi-user logins, according to sources briefed on the plans.

Mr. Gurman writes that Apple had planned to do this in 2014 in order to remain on par with the Microsoft Surface tablets. However, "the feature was deemed too unpolished for public consumption."

Typically, another company like Microsoft (or Google) will introduce a nifty OS feature, but Apple engineers have their own ideas about how the feature should work. So Apple takes some temporary heat, takes its time, does it right, and then everyone else copies Apple's better implementation.

It's too bad Apple is taking so long on a good implementation of split screen. But with Microsoft having moved ahead, making Apple look bad, and the need to breathe some new life into the iPad, especially with a larger display, it all looks to be coming together at WWDC next month. 

Finally, even if we don't see split-screen functionality at WWDC, it could well be because the 12-inch iPad isn't ready, and that feature is best utilized on larger screens. The 12-inch iPad "Pro" might come in the fall with an update to iOS 9.

In any case this has to be the year the iPad grows up, achieves its true potential, and generates newfound popularity and sales.

Next page: the tech news debris for the week of May 18. Frightening security lapses.

Page 2 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of May 18


This week I found two rather long but intelligent articles that deserve attention here.

First, has technology development become so high profile, risky and expensive that it can only cater to the wealthy? Farhad Manjoo at The New York Times ponders, "A Tech Boom Aimed at the Few, Instead of the World." It's a thoughtful article that asks, "Whatever happened to the tech industry’s grand, democratic visions of the future?" Highly recommended.

Next is an even longer but similarly high quality article by Ben Thompson on the design principles of the Apple Watch. "Apple Watch and Continuous Computing." After discussing the principles of interacting with a device on the wrist, Mr. Thompson observes:

Indeed, for now I think it likely that one of Apple’s oldest and most cherished skills — its ability to make beautiful, desirable objects — will make the Watch exactly what Tim Cook promised: another tentpole product that rivals the Mac, the iPod, the iPad, and even the iPhone. Framed as nothing more than A Watch that Does Stuff — and that you actually don’t mind wearing — Apple will rightly sell enough to kick-start a world that gets just a little bit smarter and little bit better when it knows who and where we are.

I quoted that section not because it praises Apple but because it reminds us of the enormous heritage, design savvy and engineering talent that Apple can bring to bear on a project worth doing, such as a smartwatch. It's something that critics are all too willing to ignore for their own purposes from time to time.

Software Security

I am beginning to wonder, in an informal way, whether it may be technically impossible to write large scale software that is free of security flaws. I'm not an expert in this area, but I'd sure like to find out more about the theory of software structure and security in that respect. Things like the following make me wonder if it's human carelessness, time constraints or theoretical limitations.

Would any experts like to weigh in on my question about the theoretical impossibility of 100 percent secure code on an operational and enterprise scale?

Credit: Joy of Tech


After all that, it's time for some comic relief. Is it too tiresome to tap your Apple Watch to see the time? Is it really necessary for the Apple Watch to display the time all the time, even when no one is looking at it? Is a conventional watch really better at telling time? Antonio Villas-Boas thinks the answer to all these questions is "yes." I think it's a nonsensical tempest in a teapot. "The biggest problem with most smartwatches today."

Perhaps Mr. Villas-Boas is suffering from a disorder, like one of these (pointed out by TMO reader Lee Dronick). A Field Guide to Apple Watch Neuroses.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.