Microsoft set to introduce a feature iPad users really need

Microsoft is about to deliver the most-requested feature for Word and PowerPoint on iPads – support for Split View.

Apple, iOS, iPad, iPad OS, iPad Pro, Word, Office, Microsoft

Microsoft is preparing to introduce what every Office user wants most on iPad – support for multi-window Split View mode for Word and PowerPoint on iPad OS 13 and above.

We've needed this for a while

Microsoft doesn’t hold back on new features in its productivity apps for iPads – you can trace a clear pattern of improvements ever since it bought Word, PowerPoint and Excel to Apple’s mobile platform.

However, it is easy to argue that Microsoft has not kept pace with Cupertino’s many attempts to transform iPads into multi-tasking productivity powerhouses with which to get things done. One of the biggest missing pieces: lack of support for Split Screen mode.

This has forced users to find convoluted workarounds in order to open two Word documents alongside each other on their iPad, including using two instances of a Safari window to open such documents using Word online, as detailed here.

This is both less than ideal and shows that doing so is more than possible.

That’s about to change.

Split screen for Office is coming to iPad

Microsoft is currently beta testing support for Split Screen in an early developmental version of Office for iPad, Insider preview version 2.37 (200427).

The feature means you can open two Word or PowerPoint documents side-by-side on your iPad – something users have been clamoring for for some time.

Apple enhanced Split Screen on iPad in 2019, when it finally made it possible for applications to run in both windows in this mode. This is great when researching or finalizing reports, for example.

How to use Office in Split Screen

Microsoft explains that you will be able to open Word or PowerPoint in Split Screen mode in the following ways:

  • Touch, hold, and drag a document from the Files list within the app to open it side-by-side.
  • In Word or PowerPoint, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and open the Dock. Then touch and hold the second app and drag it off the dock to the left or right edge of the screen. Then tap the document to open.
  • In Word or PowerPoint, access the Recent, Shared, and Open views in the app start screen, tap the "..." menu in the file list, then tap Open in New Window.

The useful new feature isn’t available yet, but as it has been made available for beta testing in the latest (April 29) Insider build, it should appear relatively soon.

What other useful features are coming?

Microsoft is cooking up other improvements for Office on iPad. These include:

  • Easy reporting tools to flag phishing attempts and spam emails using the Report Message item in the drop down menu.
  • Better search results (including Calendar search results) in Outlook.
  • Easier ways to schedule meetings in Outlook across time zones.
  • Better People search answers, which will give you both contact information, diary dates and recent correspondence with a named contact.
  • An improved Read Aloud tool with automatic language detection and higher-quality voices.

More information on the latest build is available here.

Apple’s new iPad Pro seems to have swung the company’s fortunes around in terms of tablet sales. Recent Digitimes research claims Apple’s iPad is now the biggest selling tablet in the world – accounting for well over 50% market share.

It’s also fair to say that the flexibility of the Apple tablet makes it a good and relatively affordable tool for anyone who finds themselves working remotely as we try to survive the current pandemic.

Where to get more information

If you are currently using an iPad to get work done, take a look at this extensive report explaining how to use the device as a laptop replacement. This report is scheduled for an update.

I continue to try to provide useful resources for Apple-centric  enterprises and individuals as workplaces change in response to COVID-19.

Please explore these additional reports, and do get in touch if there are specific matters you’d like me to explore:

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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