A recent update to Samsung Galaxy S III brought about the addition of Multi Window, which allows you to run two applications simultaneously on your screen. This feature is limited to supported apps, but it does a great job of bringing true multitasking to the smartphone.
Multi Window comes over from the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (as well as the S4), and it's a favorite feature for many users. So, when the update rolled into my own S III, I was chomping at the bit to use it.
You'll need Android version 4.1.2 in order for this to work. If you don't have it already, here's how to check for the software update:
- Tap the menu button
- Tap Settings
- Tap About device
- Tap Software update
- Tap Check now
Your device should prompt you that the upgrade is available. Once the upgrade is complete, you're ready to enjoy Multi Window.
Enable Multi Window
The first thing you need to do is make sure that Multi Window is enabled on your device. To do that, follow these steps:
- Tap the menu button
- Tap Settings
- Tap Display
- Tap Multi window to enable (a green check should appear)
Click the home button to go back to your home screen. If you do not see the Multi Window handle somewhere on the left edge of the screen (Figure A), you can long-press the back button to open it.Figure A
A Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy S III with Multi Window
Tap the Multi Window handle to reveal the Multi Window sidebar (Figure B). From this sidebar, the real action takes place.
The Multi Window sidebar in action.
You'll find that many of the built-in apps work fine — but remember, not all apps support Multi Window. With that said, let's take a look at how you can open up two windows using Multi Window:
Slide out the Multi Window sidebar
2. Scroll through the app list and find the first app you want to open
3. Tap, hold, and drag that app to the upper half of your screen
4. Find the second app (from the side bar) that you want to open
5. Tap, hold, and drag the second app to the lower half of the screen
You should now have two apps open at once (Figure C).
The web browser and Twitter client running simultaneously.
You can also resize the windows by tapping and dragging the bar that separates the two windows. Single apps can also be loaded into full screen mode by simply tapping the app launcher from the side bar. Also, if you tap the separator bar, two icons will appear, allowing you to either flip the windows (so the bottom app is on the top half of the screen and the top app is on the bottom) or resize the top app to full screen (Figure D) mode.
The flip and full screen icons only appear if you tap the separator bar.
To close out of the windows, simply tap the home button. This is a bit different than the behavior on the Galaxy S4, which offers an actual close button (in addition to the flip and full screen buttons).
You can also edit what appears on the Multi Window side bar. This allows you to keep only those Multi Window supported apps that you more frequently use on the side bar. To do this, follow these steps:
1. Open the Multi Window sidebar
2. Scroll to the bottom
3. Tap the Edit button
4. Tap, hold, and drag one of the launchers (that you want to remove from the side bar) to the right pane (Figure E)
5. Repeat until you have only the apps you want on the sidebar
6. Tap Done
You can remove Multi Window supporting apps from the sidebar.
It was a great win for Galaxy S III users to get Multi Window. Having the ability to run two apps at once (with little to no hit on resources) means more efficient work, especially for power users. It's one of those features that, once you start using, you'll wonder how you managed without it.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.