Running Two Apps Side-by-Side is Surface's Hook

Saturday, 8 March 2014

There are switching costs when you try to try to perform two tasks simultaneously. This has been scientifically proven. But Snap on a Surface isn't really designed to help you shift between goals i.e. tasks 1. From my experience, it does the complete opposite. Its implementation is elegant with sensible restrictions to keep things simple. If it's not a second screen, then it's there to support whatever I'm doing. This feature could have been designed in California. 

You may actually never invoke Snap explicitly but still use it regularly. For example, the feature reveals itself organically whenever I click on a link from NextGen Reader, Tweetium or Mail. When I do snap an app explicitly, it's usually either as a reference point for something I'm working on or to provide a second screen experience without an actual second screen. This could be a blog post that I'm referencing like here, or keeping an eye on Twitter or a live stream video while doing other work. 

Anyone who continues to defend the iPad for not allowing you to have more than one app open at a time and who insist it's a productivity booster because it means your focus is undivided must have never completed a task on their PC that required context to assist the task's completion. Or never used a Surface/Windows 8. Or is an Apple apologist. You pick. 

1. Snap on a screen that supports three or more windows is designed to enable you to work in Metro more like you would traditionally in the Desktop i.e. have multiple windows open for two or more concurrent tasks. The unshackling of Snap in this environment fundamentally alters its purpose and is a true multitasking enabler. This may make sense on a 27" monitor but not on a 10.6" Surface.