Every once in a while I come across an app that makes my eyes go wide and mouth uncontrollably smile. Multitasking is one such app. With this app, you can easily break free of the boundaries forced upon you by the standard tablet interface. You're no longer limited to a list of apps still in RAM that you can re-open (hopefully you weren't fooled into thinking that you were actually multitasking).
Here are some features that you can expect to see with the Multitasking app:
- Open multiple applications at once
- Access apps from a sliding toolbar
- Move windows
- Resize windows
- Use apps in full-screen mode
- Minimize apps to the notification bar
The app is free and very easy to install and use. However, because it's free, there are ads, and they're really annoying. When an ad pops up, you actually have to watch and then close it to continue. The developers are working on a pro (read: ad-free) version, which will be well worth the price of admission once it's complete.
Installing Multitasking is simple. Just follow these steps:
- Open the Google Play Store
- Search for Multitasking
- Locate and tap the Multitasking entry created by OryonCorp
- Tap Install
- Tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
Once it's installed, you’ll walk through a very basic introduction slideshow.
Setup and usage
After you’ve walked through the welcome slideshow, you’ll be presented with a start button in the top right corner of the screen (Figure A). Tap that button to start the app.
Multitasking running on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Note.
Once the app is running, you’ll see the Settings window (Figure B).
The Multitasking Settings window.
By default, Multitasking is set to start at boot, and you should leave that setting as-is (otherwise, you’ll have to start the app manually). In fact, most of the default settings are pretty solid, so there’s little set up to take care of.
To use Multitasking, you tap and slide the screen from the left edge (you’ll notice a hand appear to demonstrate the action). When you’ve completed that action, the Multitasking sidebar will open (Figure C). From this sidebar, you can open apps in multitasking mode (if you open apps using the standard method, they open in standard mode).
The Multitasking sidebar.
From this sidebar, launch an app (or two, or three). The apps will reside on the screen in the order they were opened. In other words, if you open a browser, then maps, then notes (Figure D), they'll layer in that order. At the moment, there's no apparent means to raise a window unless you hide the app and then unhide it.
Multiple apps running at once.
To hide a window, tap the menu overflow button in the top left of that particular window (three vertical dots), and then tap Hide (Figure E).
The Multitasking window menu in action.
Note: Some apps (such as Notes) do not have a menu, so they cannot be hidden.
To move a window, simply tap and hold the window title bar and then move the window to the desired location.
To resize a window, look for the bright blue triangle in the bottom right corner. Tap, hold, and move the corner to resize. This action is a bit tricky, because it can quickly turn into a home screen long-press. It takes some work to get used to, but once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll get the hang of it. From that window menu, you can also save the window location and size. This can be very handy once you’ve placed that window in the perfect position and you know you’ll want to use it precisely that way the next time it's opened. Even once you’ve saved the position and size, you can still move and resize the window (in the normal fashion).
Getting the hang of Multitasking is, for the most part, a no-brainer. It’s not a perfect solution (yet), but once the pro version is released, I think it will be an excellent way to truly multitask on your Android tablet.
Do you think multitasking is a must-have for Android tablets? Or is the likes of Samsung’s multi-mode enough for you? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
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 jackwallen.com.