AppleTablets

Apple should make it possible to chain together two iPad minis

Remember the Microsoft Courier? It was a tablet concept that Microsoft was looking at before the iPad even came out, and it got a lot of attention back then. The idea was to have a book-style tablet consisting of two screens connected by a hinge, and software that would use both screens together in new ways. Even though it never made it to market, the idea hasn’t quite died out, and there’s even an iOS app that brings some of the features to the iPad: Taposé.

Looking at the Courier now, it strikes me that it looks like two iPad minis connected together. That made me realize that there would actually be a lot of sense to being able to connect together two iPad minis. The connection could be wireless, leaving the physical connection to be handled by a case. That would mean that you wouldn’t need any hardware changes for the current mini to make it happen, and dual screen mode could be something that could be enabled in software.

It would give people a reason to buy a second iPad, without changing the experience whatsoever by those using only a single iPad. Furthermore, you could have one iPad with a lot of storage capacity and a cellular radio to act as the master device, and only need to buy a (relatively speaking) cheap 16GB WiFi model to act as a second iPad in the setup.

So, why would you even want to chain two iPads together? Replicating the Courier is an obvious answer, but it’s far from the only thing you could do with such a setup. You could have ebook readers work over two pages, have side-by-side document editing, put the keyboard on one screen and whatever you’re typing into on the other (in landscape mode), browse the web over two pages, run two apps side-by-side, open up for completely new game experiences, and about a billion other things. After all, dual screen devices exist, but haven’t been overly successful because of limited software support- something that an official backing by Apple would fix.

dual screen mini - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

Just having two iPad minis in itself is something I often wish I had. Today I was showing a video to a class, and found myself unable to do much which that was happening, as my iPad was serving as the video player. I wished then that I had second mini, both to act as a remote, and to do work on while the first one was busy. In fact, there has been a ton of situations, both as a student and a teacher, where I wish I had a second screen that interacted properly with my iPad mini. I’ve even considered buying a second mini even without having the two work together, so if Apple were to give me another reason to keep two minis around, I’d buy one in an instant.

I think the viability of something like this is a lot higher now than before the release of the iPad mini. Two iPad minis still weigh less combined than a full size iPad, and you wouldn’t need to use them together all the time, meaning that I think two minis would be more useful than a single large iPad where the screen was split in two. Bottom line though, this is something that can be done entirely in software, and I dare say that giving people a reason to get a second iPad mini would far repay the cost of developing the software. What’s more, there is already a working system in place for apps to seamlessly switch between single display mode and dual display mode, and it’s currently being used to allow apps to take advantage of external displays. The same system could be adapted to allow a single app to seamlessly switch between single device and dual device mode, meaning that apps wouldn’t change for users of only one device.

This might sound like this would be a very niche solution, but I don’t think so. There are lots of people out there using their iPads in situations where a second screen would come in handy, and I doubt I’m the only one who would shell out an additional $329 for a dual screen solution that worked well. The fact that this could be done without ever affecting how a single iPad looks or works means that it’s something that wouldn’t change the fundamental nature of the iPad, but just give it something extra.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

11 thoughts on “Apple should make it possible to chain together two iPad minis

  • Avatar of Dennis Wade

    God! I love this idea! I believe you’re right, it would be a huge success,
    Let’s hope you’ve planted the idea in a receptive mind at Apple.

    Reply
  • I don’t see what would make this so difficult – it should work for any Bluetooth-enabled devices. Essentially it would be no different than hooking up two monitors to a PC, and could have a spike in sales for any company that tries it.

    Still, buying 2 minis for about $700 plus the case is a pretty hefty price for what would literally be an electronic “book” style device. Maybe instead they should release a case extension with an identical screen that connects to the mini – Charge, say, $200-$250 for that and it runs off of the internals of the original. You could even fill the empty space in the extension with a nice-sized battery to extend the life to beyond that of the original.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      This isn’t difficult, that’s the entire point :)

      I do think doing it with two minis is the most viable alternative. It means taking hardware out of the equation for what’s needed to make it work, so it doesn’t’ involve essentially launching a brand new device. It would also make sense in that families or offices could have several iPads for individual use, but have the ability to combine them. A third advantage would be to continue using an older model when a new one is released.

      Reply
  • Avatar of JRDemaskus

    Andreas, I like the way you think.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Robin

    Stop copying me. I’m already doing this but not with 2 Minis. I am using a Mini and a PlayBook. I used my existing PlayBook keyboard case to accomplish this. The PlayBook fits in the molded section while the Mini is able to be fitted in the keyboard section using the elasic bands. It’s a tight fit and I am always checking the elastics but it works. Using dual screen 7″ devices is awesome. I get all my social capabilities with the PlayBook while enjoying the large cataloge of apps using the Mini. Having two different devices is nice because you get a full range experiences. Such as flash with PlayBook when I need it. I’m still working on side by side vehicle mounting but I think I might have a solution. I still need to test the OEM keyboard with the Mini but I haven’t had a desire to carry it around seperately. I don’t carry a bag. Just my cargo pants/shorts. I do have the pocket on the other leg so I will be testing it. If the PlayBook isn’t your cup of tea you can try an Android tablet if you can find a suitable case. It really is a fantastic experience. It might be a fun combination with a Nook or something like that as well.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      That sounds awesome. Do you happen to have a video of it in practice?

      Reply
      • Avatar of Robin

        I don’t at the moment but I can make one. I tested the keyboard and it works. I don’t like that you need to unpair from the Mini to shut it off while on the PlayBook you can simply disconnect. Maybe I’m just missing a setting. I will have to look into more.

        Reply
  • Brilliant. After looking at Austin for win8, I was thinking the same thing. Weight would be good & form factor not unlike the original Courier. Do I see a Kickstarter project on the horizon?

    Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      I think something like this would require Apple’s involvement; just look at how the tapose thing turned out

      Reply
  • It’s called multitasking with a split window on a full size ipad. We need this in iOS 7 or 8. No need for two iPads if you can have two programs open on an ipad.

    Sorry but its the truth.

    Reply
  • Avatar of HuntingViking

    Apple could beat Microsoft Surface Neo to the punch with this idea. Users would love to be able to open up their iPad ‘book’ and read and interact like the Neo demo reel. Having two means folding them together gets you screen protection as well.

    Reply

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