iPad Tutorial: Multitasking or How to Use Fast App Switching on the iPad


Task Mastery
Before iOS 4.2, the iPad had limited multitasking. You could start a song or podcast playback on your iPad, then switch to another app and the iPod audio kept playing in the background. That’s an example of multitasking. If you want to see more on this topic, visit the post iPad: Most Magical, Most Needed on my blog. Multitasking, or fast app switching if you prefer, is much improved with operating system upgrades in iOS 4.2 and later.

Under the original iPad iOS, if you left an App Store app it would quit completely. If you went back to the same app later it would restart not from where you left it, but from the beginning. A “saved state” is built into iOS 4.2 for iPad so apps now have their current states saved in memory. When you go back, the app checks the state saved in memory and resumes from that place rather than starting all over. To take advantage of this fast app switching, begin by double pressing the Home button.

home button

The screen turns translucent as your dock and screen glide up to reveal the new Multitasking Status Bar, where you can see a ribbon of recently used apps.

fast app switcher

You can now swipe from right to left to see the apps you’ve used recently.

fast switcher w arrow

You can switch to one of these apps by tapping on it. To return to the app you were working on before switching, activate the multitasking status bar again and tap the icon for that app. This fast app switching is perhaps the best (and most needed) feature of the new iOS 4.2.

This article is taken from my eBook guide to the iPad. See the sidebar on the right near the top of the page.


About Andy Brovey

Dr. Andy Brovey, The Portable Prof, helps others make sense and make use of digital tools through his work, websites and social media. He has over 30 years experience in educational technology, including teaching, administration and professional development. In 2007, Apple Inc. recognized his work and named him an Apple Distinguished Educator. He started this iPad Academy website shortly after the first iPad went on sale to help others become more comfortable and competent with the iPad, in person and online. His latest venture is Teach About Tech, a resource marketplace for technology trainers.