Everyone knows Android can multitask — sort of. You open an app, you close an app. If you want to go back to the app, you re-open the app or open the "multitasking" screen and select the app you want to run. If you happen to be running Android KitKat or earlier, there's a better way to switch between running apps: use PinTasking.
What is PinTasking?
PinTasking is a free app that allows you to "pin" two apps to your home screen and quickly switch between them. It's incredibly handy for users that bounce between a few select apps all the time.
The caveat is that, "out of the box," PinTasking does not work with Lollipop. However, if you rooted your Lollipop device, there's a helper app that can be installed from within the PinTasking app upon first run.
If you're running a pre-Lollipop device, PinTasking works like a dream. Let's install it, and see what this fantastic app (which is currently in beta) can do.
Follow these steps to install PinTasking on a KitKat or earlier device:
- Open Google Play on your Android device.
- Search for PinTasking.
- Locate and tap the entry for PinTasking by PhinxApps.
- Tap Install.
- Read the permissions listing.
- If the permissions are acceptable, tap Accept.
- Allow the installation to complete.
Once the installation is complete, you should see PinTasking in your App Drawer.
Before using PinTasking, this is what you need to know.
- You can only pin two apps to the home screen.
- By default, the Swipe location is in the upper left corner of the screen (swipe down from there).
- You must swipe downward until the pin icon animation stops (the pin will be pointing downward).
Now let's configure PinTasking. Open the app, and you will be greeted with the Options window (Figure A).
PinTasking running on a Verizon-branded Droid Turbo.
Tap the Swipe Pad option first. In this new window (Figure B), tap the In Use button to enable the Swipe Pad feature. Make sure the action is Pin Current Task and enable Always Center The Animation.
Configuring the PinTasking Swipe Pad.
Go back to the main PinTasking screen and tap Pin Style. In this window (Figure C), you can configure various aspects of the pin. You might want to disable Autoremove. With this feature enabled, your pins will automatically be removed when your device display goes off. If you only want those pins to vanish at your command, disable the Autoremove feature.
Customize how your pins look and behave.
It's time to figure out how to use PinTasking. Here's how:
- Open an app.
- From the upper left corner, swipe downward.
- Continue swiping until the pin stops moving (Figure D).
- Open a second app and repeat steps 2 and 3 to pin your second app. You should now have an app open and the PinTasking pin on the right edge of your screen (Figure E).
- In order to easily switch between the two apps, tap the pin.
Pinning a task to the home screen.
PinTasking is ready to switch between apps.
If you return to your home screen, you'll notice the PinTasking pin remains. You can go back to the last opened pinned app by tapping the pin. One issue to be aware of is lag; when you open a pinned task from the home screen, the delay is noticeable (in fact, you get a warning about it). Once that app is open, switching returns to its regular speed.
If you want to delete the PinTasking pin, long press it and drag it downward toward the trash can icon (Figure F).
If you drag the pin upward, you open the Quicksettings window, which is a way to get to PinTasking's settings without opening the app.
If you're still using KitKat or earlier and want a way to easily switch between two frequently used apps, PinTasking is the right tool for the job. Give it a go, and see if it doesn't make your Android multitasking life better.
How do you multitask on Android? Have you found a method that best fits your needs? If so, let us know in the comments.
- 10 free Android apps that are worth checking out
- Five Android-only apps worth a look (gallery)
- 5 tips to help make Android more productive
- Pro tip: How to deal with misbehaving Android apps
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.