Use iOS 11’s iPad Dock for Better Multitasking and App Switching
iOS 11 adds new features, security fixes, and expanded core functionality to the iPhone and iPad. For the first time, a significant number of the new features and improvements in this update are available only on the iPad.
If you haven’t splurged on an iPad Pro , but you have an iPad that is not ancient, you’ll be glad to know that the most of the new iPad features in iOS 11 are available across many of the iPad models. One of those features is the new iPad Dock, which is modeled after the Mac Dock, and makes iPad multitasking easier and more fun.
Today we’ll look at how to use the features of the new iPad Dock in iOS 11.
Activate the iPad Dock
The Dock on the iPad is primarily an app launcher, with some additional features that make it different from other third-party app launchers on iOS. It remains at the bottom of the screen when you switch among Home screens, like it always has. But now it’s hidden until you need it and it can also be accessed while inside an app.
In iOS 10, swiping up from the bottom of the screen opened the Control Center . A short swipe up from the bottom of the screen now activates the Dock in iOS 11. If you swipe up further, the Control Center displays as part of the new “Mission Control” app switcher screen.
If you’re using a physical keyboard with your iPad, like the Smart Keyboard, you can use the Command + Option + D shortcut to activate the Dock while inside an app.
Add an App to the Dock
The Dock can hold anywhere from 11 apps on an iPad Mini to 15 apps on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro . To add an app to the Dock:
- Tap and hold the app’s icon on the Home screen, or in a folder, until it jiggles.
- Drag the app to a spot on the Dock.
As you add more apps to the Dock, they get slightly smaller so they all fit.
You can also add folders to the Dock, which is useful if you want more apps on the Dock than the maximum 11 or 15 allowed. You can create a folder (drag one app on top of another) to contain apps you use often enough to want quick access to and drag it to the Dock.
Having apps available on the Dock, or in folders on the Dock, makes it easier to use them in Slide Over and Split View, as we discuss later in this article.
Remove an App From the Dock
If you decide you don’t want an app on the Dock anymore, it’s easy to remove it. To remove an app from the Dock:
- Tap and hold an app’s icon on the Dock until it jiggles.
- Drag the app to the Home screen or onto a folder to add it to that folder.
Show or Hide Recently Used Apps
By default, the right side of the Dock is reserved for up to three recently used apps. Most of the time, these are apps you’ve recently opened, but you might also see apps suggested by Siri (based on your app usage habits) in that section. If you’d rather fill up the Dock with apps of your choice, you can hide the recently used apps.
The recently used apps on the Dock are not included in the maximum number of apps (11 to 15) you can add to the Dock. They are in addition to the recently used apps, so you might end up with 14 to 18 apps on your Dock. If you feel the Dock is too crowded that way, or the app icons are too small for your taste, follow these steps to hide the recently used apps.
- Open the Settings app and tap General.
- Tap Multitasking & Dock.
- Tap the Show Suggested and Recent Apps slider button so it turns white.
All you’ll see on the Dock now are the apps you put there.
Arrange Apps on the Dock
In addition to adding apps to the Dock, you can rearrange them. Press on an app icon until it jiggles and drag it to another location on the Dock.
Activate Slide Over for Easy Multitasking
The new Dock in iOS is not the only way to get into Slide Over or Split View on your iPad. But it’s the easiest way.
Slide Over is an app in a floating window over another app on either side of the screen.
To open an app in Slide Over on top of a currently open app:
- Access the Dock while in the first app.
- Tap and hold on the second app icon on the Dock (or in a folder on the Dock) and drag that icon centrally over the first open app.
The app displays as a floating window on the right side of the screen by default.
To reposition the floating window, tap and hold the short bar on the top of the window and drag it to the other side of the screen. To hide the floating window, drag the top of the window off the right side of the screen. You can bring the floating window back onto the screen by swiping left from the right side of the screen.
Drag Items Between Apps and the Dock
In Slide Over, you can drag items from one app to another. For example, if you want to jot down a link from Safari in the Notes app , you can drag the link from Safari directly into a note.
- Access the Dock and drag the Notes app to it, if the app is not already on the Dock.
- Put the Notes app into Slide Over mode as described above and open the note to which you want to add the link.
- Press and hold on the address bar in Safari.
- Drag from the address bar to the Notes floating window and drop the link into the note.
The link is added to the open note with a thumbnail of the webpage.
You can also drag items like links from an open app to an app on the Dock. For example, we’ll drag a URL from Safari into the Notes app.
- In the Notes app, make sure the note you want to drag the URL into is open.
- Drag the URL from Safari’s address bar to the Notes app on the Dock.
- Hold the link over the Notes app’s icon until the Notes app opens.
- Drop the URL link into the open note.
Switch From Slide Over to Split View
Split View is two apps sharing the screen at the same level, with a movable slider between them. You can drag items between the two apps just like you can in Slide Over. It’s another option for useful iPad multitasking.
To switch from Slide Over to Split View, tap and hold the short bar on the top of the floating window and drag up or down a bit. The floating window will pop into place next to the other app and a movable bar displays between the two apps.
You can adjust how much space each app uses on the screen by dragging the Split View slider in between the apps left or right.
Get Out of Split View
To get out of Split View, drag the split view slider over the app you want to close and off the edge of the screen.
Get Directly Into Split View
You don’t have to go into Slide Over before getting into Split View. To go directly into Split View, drag the second app to the far right or left side of the screen and drop it there.
Add a Third App in Slide Over on Top of Split View
If you have two apps running in Split View mode, you can open a third app in a Slide Over floating window over the two apps. Drag the app you want to open from Dock over the Split View slider and drop it.
On the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, all three apps are active at the same time. On older iPad models and all recent non-iPad Pro models, the apps in Split View in the background are unresponsive when the third app is in a Slide Over floating window over them.
Switch From Split View to Slide Over
Switching from Split View to Slide Over is just as easy as switching from Slide Over to Split View.
- Drag the Split View slider so the app you want in the Slide Over floating window takes up 25 percent of the screen.
- Tap and hold the short bar on the top of the floating window and drag down a bit until you see the main app take over the whole screen.
- When you lift your finger, the app displays in a floating Slide Over window.
Access Recently Used Files From the Dock
One time-saving feature of the Dock in iOS 11 is the recently-used files popup window. Not all apps support it yet, but the new Files app does. For example, press and hold on the Files app on the Dock until a popup window displays with recently accessed files in it. This window stays open even when you take your finger off the app icon.
Initially, four files display on the popup window, but you can tap Show More to see additional files.
Tap on a file to open that file in the default app for that file type. You can also drag a file onto another app on the Dock. This is useful if you want to email a file to someone, or send it in a text message.
Tap Show Less to show four files on the popup window again. To close the popup window, tap anywhere off the window.
A More Useful iPad
The new Dock is available on all iPads that can run iOS 11, but the Slide Over and Split View functionality is limited to iPads that have support for split screen functionality.
Slide Over is available on the iPad Mini 2 and later, the iPad Air and later, the fifth generation iPad, and all iPad Pro models. Split View is only available on the latest iPad models (iPad Mini 4, iPad Air 2, and the fifth generation iPad) and all iPad Pro models.
Which new iPad Dock feature do you like the most? Do you use the multitasking features on your iPad? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below.