Apple introduced a collection of new multitasking capabilities as part of the recent iOS 9 update in an effort to increase the iPad’s utility. When using the newer-generation iPads, you now have the opportunity to run two apps simultaneously in a split-screen layout.
The catch is that while most of Apple’s native apps (Safari, Calendar, Mail, etc.) support this new multitasking in iOS 9, all third-party apps need to be updated to include this feature.
Unfortunately there aren’t many aviation apps out that support the new iOS 9 multitasking features yet, probably due to the fact that it takes a significant amount of work to add this capability. Sporty’s however released a new version of its popular E6B flight computer app yesterday that takes full advantage of these multitasking features.
An E6B app is the perfect candidate for iPad multitasking. It’s the type of app that you don’t need to have open in the forefront at all times, but is nice to be able to quickly access without leaving your primary EFB app. Sporty’s E6B was designed with that concept in mind; here’s a review of what’s new in the latest version.
Slide over multitasking
The first type of multitasking, which we’ll refer to as “slide over” multitasking, requires an iPad Mini 2, 3 or 4, iPad Air 1 or 2, or the new iPad Pro. This allows you to launch a second app without having to close out the current app you’re currently using.
Let’s say you were using ForeFlight while on a cross-country flight and wanted to calculate how far out you should begin a descent to arrive at your destination using a comfortable 500 fpm descent rate. Slide your finger over from the right side of the screen to reveal a vertical column of apps (only those that support multitasking will be displayed).
Select E6B from the list, and the app will display right on top of ForeFlight on the right 1/3 of the screen. Tap “Functions” from the main menu, and select “Top of Descent” to perform that calculation. When finished swipe the inset back towards the right side of the screen to resume using ForeFlight.
Split screen multitasking
Split screen multitasking adds even more utility by allowing you to run two separate apps on the iPad screen at the same time. Since this is fairly processor intensive, it is only supported on the newest iPad models: iPad Mini 4, iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro. Also both apps must support this multitasking feature, which is really the bigger limitation for pilots since there are very few aviation apps that have been updated to do this.
With that being said, there are still several cases where you’ll find it useful to use the E6B side by side with one of Apple’s native apps. Say you were using an online flight planner in the Safari web browser and needed to perform a quick true airspeed calculation during preflight planning. Just like with the slide over multitasking, slide your finger from the right side of the screen and select E6B from the list of apps.
Now just to the left of the separation line between the Safari and E6B apps you’ll see a thin white vertical button–hold down on this with your finger and slide it to the middle of the screen. This will activate the split-screen mode and allow you to use both apps simultaneously. You can also slide the mid-screen divider bar about 2/3 of the way to the right side of the screen, which will split the layout so that the left app occupies about 70% of the screen and 30% for the right app.
What else is new in the E6B app
The latest version of Sporty’s E6B also includes several other updates for the iPhone and Apple Watch versions of the app. First the app was redesigned with a clean new interface that is optimized for the larger screens found on the iPhone 6 and 6+. Also users who have updated their Apple Watch to watchOS 2 will notice that the app runs natively on the watch now, meaning the watch doesn’t have to be tethered to your iPhone to use the app.
Sporty’s E6B app includes 22 aviation functions, 20 conversions and complete timer and time zone tracking features. It takes all the core functions of the popular Electronic E6B Flight Computer and adds improved functionality, a redesigned mobile interface and a new weight & balance calculator.
Check out the latest version of Sporty’s E6B app in the app store: Sporty’s E6B Flight Computer for iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch.