So you have that beautiful quad-core processor, but aside from games, what do you really use it for? Rockchip's newly unveiled upgrade to its Android multi-window system enables the windowed use of apps on Android tablets. Users can theoretically browse the web, stream a YouTube video, toggle system settings, and chat with friends without the hassle of hopping back and forth between full-screen applications. While we've seen windowed Android apps before, most notably on Samsung devices, only a few apps were supported, limiting the functionality's usefulness.

Rockchip2 Rockchip3


Rockchip's offering supports resizing windows via two-finger and three-finger gestures. Users can drag windows and position them manually, or watch as they snap automatically to fill half or a fourth of the screen. The software is built on top of Android 4.2.2 and adds in a host of other features unrelated to window management. Rockchip has added support for custom quick-start programs and the ability to snap a screenshot using gestures. Most of the new tricks star in the video below.

It's not clear whether this upgrade will only work on tablets powered by Rockchip processors, but either way, don't go expecting to snatch this from the Play Store right away. Keep your eyes peeled to see if it comes integrated as part of a new device instead.

SHENZHEN, China, July 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- China Rockchip Electronics Co., Ltd released an upgrade of its Android 4.2.2 tablet system -- Android Multi-Windows -- on a global scale recently. It is said that the upgrade enabled a windowed Android system and was of revolutionary significance. The new upgrade involved five revolutionary promotions.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130722/CN50593)

1. Supports multiple tasks and multiple windows simultaneously with operations in the foreground

The upgraded Android Windows released by Rockship Electronics is capable of conducting multiple tasks and opening multiple windows on the screen simultaneously, which is of tremendous revolutionary value. For example, it's possible to browse the web and run programs in the foreground while playing movies.

Currently, IOS-, Android- and Windows-operated phones fail to support multiple windows on-one-screen operation and management. If they supported multi-tasking and multi-window operation simultaneously in the foreground, then users could conduct multi-region operations on the desktop.

2. Omni-bearing multi-window, multi-touch gestures

Users can scale a window's size at will through two-finger or three-finger full-touch scrolling experience in the brand-new Google Windows. Similar to desktop Windows, Android supports multi-task and multi-windows operation.

The upgraded Android Windows supports multi-gestures operation, too. For example, when operating with two fingers, users can enter the window operation mode by putting one finger inside the application window and the other outside it to move more than fifty pixels. If three fingers are all put inside the application window, then a fifty-pixel movement will enable users to enter the window model.

3. Achieve multi-task and multi-window switching with one key

The new Android Windows is developed based on Android 4.2.2 and adds multiple switchover methods for switching multi-windows mode; the soft key "multi-tasks system key" is newly added; users can conduct 1/4 screen stack, tiling, scaling, arbitrary translation and other operations on the program window.

4. "Split-screen menu bar" added

In spite of the fact that Android 4.2.2 has considerably enriched the pulldown shortcut menu, the brand-new Android Windows brings a more immediate change---it supports custom quick-start programs and achieves split-screen with one key. Both arrangement and scaling can be conducted.

5. The function of gestures smart screenshot

This function allows users to snap screenshots of any area on the screen according to gestures and put them onto a clipboard. (Third-party applications can use these screenshots according to provided API.) Any creative work or bulletins can be accomplished efficiently with the assistance of it.

The upgraded Android Multi-Windows developed by China Rockchip Electronics Co., Ltd

on the basis of Android 4.2.2 achieves multi-tasking and simultaneous multiple window operation in the foreground for the first time in Android's history. Meanwhile, it adds gesture operation, a multi-task system, split-screen menu and the function of gestures smart screenshot. The brand-new Android Windows absorbs experience characteristics of mobile internet hardware products and the abundant experience and essence of desktop Windows, and thus promotes user experience and the usability of portable devices such as Android-powered tablets.

SOURCE China Rockchip Electronics Co., Ltd.

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • Alex Flynn

    There is no reason this would be specific to Rockchip... unless they want it to be. If they open source it, it could be everywhere.

    But, I imagine it will face the same problem CornerStone did with CM, i.e, Google apparently said 'dont do that, or we'll block CM devices from accessing Play' (or something similar)

    • coder543

      That was ages ago. Samsung is doing it, and they're still allowed to access the Play Store. Android as a whole is much more robust than it used to be, so a feature like this is less worrisome for Google. Considering Rockchip put in the effort to develop this feature, I imagine they want to keep it exclusive to Rockchip devices for as long as possible.

    • Drew M

      I thought the problem with Cornerstone was that it was too buggy. It also only worked with certain apps and crashed A LOT. Despite being open-sourced and integrated in some experimental CM releases, it was never stable enough to make it to nightlies. I don't think Google or the CM teams had any hand in it falling off the radar. It's also too bad, because if multiwindow was truly done right at the AOSP level, it would give Android a tremendous advantage.

      • ins0mn1a

        hm, i remember someone from google asking quite explicitly "guys don't do it" on google plus. i interpreted it as a conceptual clash, with android being built from the bottom up as a "single screen" system, so they didn't want a baked-in solution like cornerstone because it could break things.

        • Rob Mahon

          Aye, Diane Hackborn gave them a 'don't do it guys' speech. To be fair, it was very buggy at the time, can see Google being twitchy, but seeing Samsung implement something that works, it's obvious it can be done. This demo here reminded me initially of Cornerstone too (think they released all their sources? so someone's probably been able to hack something together that works). Android handles screen rotations fine, Paranoid Android shows how apps can be set to run in phone/tablet mode, so something that changes size, and rolls over into phone mode if it gets too small? I can see that working for a fair few apps.

          • ins0mn1a

            you are totally right, android apps that dynamically adjust to different screen sizes seem like am even better candidate for multitasking than your regular pc windows that just resize things. i am seriously hoping they will include this in 5.0. one thing i am not sure of is whether we have serious reasons to hope for more "pc-like" features in 5.0, or it's just wishful thinking.

          • Björn Lundén

            The API guarantee the app that they don't have to dynamically adjust to different screensizes on-the-fly. That was the main issue Google had with Cornerstone. Samsung is likely allowed to do it because they only enable it for a few apps they have whitelisted.

          • Michael McIntosh

            "White listed apps only" LOL you forget we are on android bud. My note 2 had multi window support for ALL APPS a month after release, provided you were rooted. People just repeat that pseudo warning from Google all day and then vaguely reference an API that they know nothing about.

            I guess Samsung is the top OEM because they know how to do Android better than Google? I mean they managed ton get multi window to magically work which is apprently impossible!

          • Björn Lundén

            As a member of the CM team, you don't need to remind me this is Android.

            See my reply above. The issue is not that it can't be done. We had a working Cornerstone-based implementation before Samsung released their feature. It's about not harming the ecosystem.

            Yes, of course modifying or disabling the whitelist was going to happen but what matters is that Samsung took care to not enable it for every app.

          • Michael McIntosh

            you had the opportunity to impement it when Dianne Hackborn's unprofessional, unkept, homely looking ass threatened the CM team publicly. To then let Samsung have their way was a slap in the face to anyone who has ever flashed a custom rom on their device.

            it should have been pushed through as soon as she said that because she was speaking from her personal beliefs and not as a rep for Android, and IMO she should have been fired/moved/demoted for showing such disrespect to the beloved CM.

          • Björn Lundén


          • ins0mn1a

            i see. maybe api level xy (19? or 21 - drinking age, haha) can introduce an option to actually do on-the-fly adjustments? i wonder if this can be done without big changes to the app itself. i am quite possibly wrong, but from a superficial standpoint it doesn't look like a terribly big deal, it's just a smart rearrangement of already existing elements.

          • Björn Lundén

            Yes, most apps handle it just fine. The thing is that developers are guaranteed that they don't have to support it so it's likely untested and might bring forward strange bugs and cause users of said ROM to start giving the app unfairly low reviews which in turn can make developers think Android is too expensive to support. That will harm the ecosystem as a whole.

    • Adrian Meredith

      its fine so long as it passed the compatibility tests. You can't call it android (and access the playstore) unless everything works. That would make it a fork at which point it is no longer allowed to be referred as android

  • jaydon

    If we could get real multi-tasking in Android 5.0, which is supposed to be more optimized for notebooks, that would be amazing. Otherwise, I can't see how Android would be a serious contender for PC's without proper multi-tasking.

    • Ezzy

      What exactly do you mean by "proper"?

      • Adrian Meredith

        Id assume he means like in the video above. Ie using two apps at the same time. The current system could be considered Manytasking.

    • popi

      Android contender to PC? Thats what ChromeOS id for bro.:P

  • faceless128

    you can use any app with the Samsung multitasking if you root, use a pre-patched TouchWIz based rom or modify the apks. most apps work fine.

  • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

    This is actually pretty amazing. It seems to be though that it's like windows 8.1 on steroids...which isn't a bad thing in this case. The issue I'm seeing is that tabs are going to have to have way more RAM to handle the multi-tasking.

  • Carlos

    Damn nice. :D

  • JayMankind

    Funnily enough, I never missed true multitasking on my phone or my tablet. That's maybe because I go to my desktop if I need anything useful done.

    • http://about.me/tysonayoung Tyson Young

      I have actually stopped using a desktop all together since I got my transformer prime and something like this could easily push the android tablets with adock market further along.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

    I really hate that the press is misappropriating the term 'multitasking'. Android, and the Linux kernel it uses, multitask (run multiple processes concurrently) just fine and have always done so.

    What's being described is a multi-window user interface, which has nothing to do with multitasking. Android and iOS normally use a full-screen application user interface, where the application with input focus is displayed in the foreground while other running apps are minimized. You can switch between apps, but the full screen will be used by whatever app is selected. This works really well on small screens, like smartphones and tablets, because there isn't much desktop real estate to go around.

    Having multiple open windows, managing them, and interacting with all of them, works well when the screen size is large enough to do so. The Ubuntu Phone, for example, is single window UI on a smartphone, and multi-window UI when being used as a docked desktop computer.

    I don't think that multi-windowing will be particularly useful on anything smaller than a 10-inch screen. If you used a netbook or similar small screen computer for any period of time, you'll remember that you got the most productivity by maximizing app windows.

    Having the option to use multi-windowing, and having it automatically enable when docked to a large screen, makes sense. Having multi-windowing the default UI for Android, not so much.

    • Nata Greer

      Keep in mind, just because you can't imagine a use for multi-windows on anything less than a 10 in device doesn't mean the rest of us can't. Even on my note2 I am constantly wishing I could split screen (Samsung's attempt doesn't work very well) for productivity purposes. At the end of the day, wouldn't it be better to include it in the Android system as a standard and let people decide for themselves if they want to use it?

      Also, aren't we just playing semantics with the whole "multi-tasking" vs multi-window question? I think everyone who read the article understands what is being talked about is multi-tasking within a single full screen by using multiple windows. "Multi-tasking" is not strictly a computer term, so your narrow definition may not be as the article intended.

  • ins0mn1a

    is that... an android tablet wearing an ipad mini mask? people confuse me sometimes.

  • ta2025

    Anyone know which tablet that is? As much as its interesting to talk about how much RAM you would need or whether Google will allow it, the point is that the tablet above is actually doing it. I would love to know which one it is? Thanks!

    • Enes Taşdemir

      Too bad it's screen resolution is 1024 x 768px

      • ta2025

        the screen res is exacly the same as the Ipad mini they copied. There are 2048x1536 models too - just not for that price.

  • ta2025
  • zhuowei

    The HP Slate 7 is the only Rockchip Android device I know of, so does this mean that HP will be the one to debut it on a device?

    • smurph

      There are loads of budget priced Rockchip tablets produced by lesser known Chinese manufactures - Pipo, Cube, Sumvision etc. Good devices sometimes let down by less than stellar customer support and often buggy official firmwares.

  • Richard Yarrell

    The Galaxy Note 2 multiwindow feature pisses on anything on the market.

    • Enes Taşdemir

      s3, s4, note tabs also have multiwindow feature.

    • squiddy20

      ...Except for oh... laptops or desktops, which have had "true multitasking and productivity abilities" for decades. Moron.

    • joshohi

      I agree 100% I use a modified tw I got from xda way better than stock the thing is it makes my asus transformer feel like a joke holding this note 2

  • Michal Metný

    Nice app for multi-window is also Floating apps. It has the largest and most advanced collection of floating apps available on Google Play.

  • stefan

    Have find it on http://www.234buy.com/

  • jugg

    Andrews is the only way to compete with the iphone system scalability, application software and more. If you like to play phone, then it is recommended that Andrews. If, as a comparison of the two platforms, it can only say: strengths and weaknesses