One of Samsung's claims to fame is a feature meant to improve productivity on mobile devices. One that users of stock Android and manufacturer skins alike have been yearning for for a while. That feature is multi-window, which allows users to run two apps on the screen at once, dragging and dropping between the two.
The problem is no one has been able to get it right yet. A company in the mobile space - in this writer's opinion - has yet to perfect the balance between utility and intuition when it comes to multi-window functionality on tablets (or phones, though I haven't used the Note 4 yet), but a post to Android Internals in March confirmed that Google had been working on the programmatic side of multi-window in stock Android.
Time keeps marching forward, and Google keeps improving the mobile version of its Chrome browser. Those who want to see the new goodies before everyone else can check out the official Chrome for Android Beta, which updates to version 35 today. The official changelog mentions some interesting additions, including at least one that was there already: support for Chromecast on HTML5 videos.
Videos on your device have gotten better too, with better HTML5 controls and subtitle support (for those clips that include them).
Mobile devices are designed primarily as a modal experience. You use one app at a time, but can switch between them quickly. Multi-window interfaces and floating apps have been implemented a few times as an alternative, but most of these solutions are a bit clunky. Ixonos has released a new video demo of its multi-window technology, and it looks much better. If only we knew where to get it.
Windows can be resized dynamically by dragging the corner, just like a desktop.
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.
While Samsung has been dipping its toes into the single-screen multitasking world, Google has yet to do the same. According to noted Android and Google tipster ryan_socio (Ryan Matthews, not his real name), that's about to change. Ryan posted a message to The Verge's social user section, detailing an upcoming version of the YouTube Android app that will let users watch videos and interact with the rest of Android at the same time.
After some teasing, Paranoid Android has unveiled (in a lovely promo image) their plan for multi-window functionality on Android, which they promise to "get right," – Halo.
The premise is simple, yet extremely ambitious in scope – allow apps to give you notifications right on top of your screen, which allow you to pop into that app without leaving the one you're in (no matter what it is), take care of business, and resume your experience uninterrupted.
Running multiple apps side-by-side is something that many users – especially those with tablets – have wanted on Android for a long time. And while we've seen a few implementations before (remember Cornerstone?), none have really taken off. Sure, Samsung has an option for multi-window on its more recent devices, but that's still a far-from-perfect solution, as it only allows certain apps to run together.
Given how oft-request/desired/lusted after this feature is, the devs behind the Paranoid Android ROM decided to try to bring it to life in a practical, usable way.
It's not Jelly Bean yet. Well, I mean it is. It's the older Jelly Bean. Not the newer Jelly Bean. I'm sure this isn't confusing. However, Verizon is getting ready to roll out an update to the Galaxy S III that will bump the phone from 4.1.1 to 4.1.2. Unfortunately this isn't the 4.2 upgrade most users were likely hoping for. Among the listed improvements are a better keyboard and the ability to take pictures while on a call.
While Samsung may have made quite a splash with its new ad during "the big game" here in the States, its Canadian branch had a pretty big announcement of its own: an update that brings Multi-Window and Chinese language support will be coming to the Galaxy Note II on "national carriers" beginning this Wednesday. By "national carriers," we're assuming that means Canada's big three: Telus, Bell, and Rogers.
For those who may not be familiar with the feature, Multi-Window is Samsung's claim to fame on the Note II, as it's the standout feature that allows users to run multiple apps on the screen at one time.
US Cellular is issuing an update to their variant of Samsung's Galaxy Note II, bringing the baseband version up to R950VXALL1. The headline feature with this update, as may be expected, is multi-window support. That's not all the R950VXALL1 package brings, though.
The update, besides evidently bringing the device up to Android "4.1.4" Jelly Bean (did you mean to say "4.1.2" there, USC?), brings an armload of bug fixes, from a "Burst Mode" camera fix to occasional toggling between 3G and 1X, to minor UI changes including the replacement of the notification shade's "sync" button with a multi-window shortcut and a makeover for the phone's Sound icon, switching from gray to green.