One feature set to arrive when Android N is released that is sure to please a lot of Android users is the multi-window mode. This is unlike the attempt at multi-window mode offered by Samsung; Google has made this functionality seamless and elegant. Samsung’s offering always seemed unreliable, while Android N’s feature works well. (Note: If you’re using anything prior to Android N, this feature will not work.)
SEE: How to download and install Android N now (ZDNet)
Two ways to use multi-window
There is no multi-window button within Settings. Turns out, there are two ways to open an app in multi-window mode.
1: Using multi-window with an app open
The first method of using multi-window mode I will discuss is when you already working within an app.
Say you have a messaging window open, and you need to share information from an email with the person on the receiving end of your conversation. You could open the email app, copy the information, re-open the messaging app, and then paste the data from the clipboard. Or if you’re using Android N with the messaging app open, you can long-press the square “recent apps” button to bring up the list of apps running in memory and tap the app in question to place it into the secondary app space (the lower half of your screen — Figure A).
Locate the secondary app you want to open and tap it.
You will likely get a warning that the app will not work in multi-window mode, though it probably will work. Once that warning disappears, you’ll have both apps available, simultaneously (Figure B).
Hangouts and Gmail running in multi-window mode.
You can now use both apps as normal. By default, the apps will split the screen 50/50. You can tap and drag the center dragbar to give one app more space than the other. Google has set a minimum ratio (of about 75/25) that you cannot exceed without dismissing one of the apps. That’s one of the ways of exiting multi-window mode: tap and drag the dragbar either up (to dismiss the top app) or down (to dismiss the bottom app) and you’ll return to single-window mode.
Another way to exit multi-window mode is to long-press the “recent apps” button until the secondary app closes, leaving you with only the primary app open in single-window mode. You can also tap the square “recent apps” button (which will be split in two when in multi-window mode), to close out the secondary app and open a new secondary app from the list.
2: Using multi-window from the home screen
If you don’t have an app open, here’s how to access multi-user mode.
- Tap the square “recent apps” button.
- Tap and drag one of the apps to the top of your screen (Figure C).
- Locate the second app you want to open (from the recent apps list that is open).
- Tap the second app.
Voila! You’re in multi-window mode.
Getting to multi-window mode from the home screen.
A simple solution
Of all the mobile versions of multi-tasking I’ve used, the Android N multi-window mode shows the most promise. If you happen to be working with Android N, you should start using multi-mode immediately and see how much more efficient your mobile usage can be.