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Long gone are the days when smartphones were tiny and cramped, and multitasking on them was a distant dream. With the adoption of larger displays and more flexible software, smartphones make it easier than ever before to do more at once. Split-screen, a native Android feature, already lets you work with two apps at the same time. Now Google is reportedly working on a way to make it even easier to multitask, with a new App Pairs feature for launching two apps simultaneously.
Split-screen multitasking on Android 11 (left); App Pairs mockup on Android 12 (right)
As seen in the image above, an App Pair would be treated as a single app, and users will also be able to switch to a different app or app pair — it currently isn't possible to switch to a different app without breaking the existing split-screen setup. The divider is also picking up new functionality and should be able to swap app positions by way of a quick double-tap.
If this feature rings a bell, it's because some smartphone manufacturers have already implemented something very similar. For instance, Samsung introduced its own version in 2017 on the Galaxy Note8. Microsoft's first Android phone, the Surface Duo, also boasted a similar feature that allowed users to open different apps on its two displays at once.
Google may be a little late to the party, but we're still glad it's showing up.