An upcoming iPad feature could be a part of Apple's plans to blow up the TV industry

One of the coolest new software features for the iPad, picture-in-picture video, that Apple announced on Monday at its annual developer conference is going to be great when using video streaming apps that are already available.

But it could also hint at Apple’s bigger plans for TV streaming.

Picture-in-picture allows you to watch a video while you’re doing something else on your iPad, like checking your email or responding to a text message. It’s part of the suite of multitasking tools that Apple has added to the next version of the iPad’s operating system.

Craig Federighi, who oversees software at Apple, demonstrated how it works at the conference on Monday by keeping a small ESPN video up while he checked his email.

Many people will probably find that being able to resize a movie around a video from a TV network’s app in the background as they check their email will be very useful.

But as Kirk Burgess, an analyst at the Braeburn Group in New Zealand, pointed out on Twitter, Picture-in-Picture would also be a great feature for the internet-streamed TV service that Apple is reportedly working on.

It’s pretty easy to imagine relaxing on your couch, iPad in hand, watching a basketball game or the latest episode of your favourite TV show, and keeping the feed on in the background when you want to reply to an email, look something up, or the video goes to a commercial break.

A lot of people already multitask with their devices while watching TV, so it’s something many people are already accustomed to.

Apple hasn’t said anything publicly about the rumoured TV service, which will reportedly offer a smaller bundle of channels than people typically get from their cable and satellite companies, and could also include local channels. Apple has the potential to shake up a despised industry if it chooses to move ahead with a television service.

But it’s easy to look back at previous software updates from Apple and see where the new features have fit into future products and services.

Last summer, for instance, Apple said it would begin to allow developers to redesign apps in any size. It’s now clear that move was so developers would be ready to make apps for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which had bigger screens than any previously released iPhones. But none of those products had been announced, of course, when Apple released the new operating system to developers.

As Steve Jobs said in his famous Stanford commencement speech in 2005, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.”

But maybe that’s not always true with Apple products.

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