Android N took to the spotlight last Wednesday when Google rolled out a preview ahead of I/O event. The highlight, of course,is the split-screen that lets you to view two apps simultaneously. That should give mobile app users more breathing space, a privilege we take for granted when we use our desktop. However, the split-screen mode isn?t the main star, apparently, as yesterday, ArtsTechnica revealed a more interesting feature: freeform windows.
This is the ability to resize windows at will so you can see multiple screens at once. Now that?s definitely more than the split-screen feature. But there?s a catch–the multi-window function isn?t enabled and, as far as we know, only works for larger mobile devices. ArtsTechnica reported to have had noticed recurring mentions of ?experimental freeform windows? in Google?s guidelines and developer code and sure enough, it?s here:
“<string name=”enable_freeform_support”>Enable freeform windows</string>
<string name=”enable_freeform_support_summary”>Enable support for experimental freeform windows.</string>”
In fact, the site later realized they?re right because Google actually has mentioned the multi-window mode. Check this official Google statement:
“Manufacturers of larger devices can choose to enable freeform mode, in which the user can freely resize each activity. If the manufacturer enables this feature, the device offers freeform mode in addition to split-screen mode.”
Enabling the freeform feature requires some geeky tweaking, such as, rooting the OS, pulling and decompiling the framework-res.apk, etc., of which if you have no idea about, the feature won?t impress you. That?s why Google thought it wise to focus the attention on the split-screen function, a new feature that is easier to digest for the great many.
So, what?s the big deal about freeform windows? Much, like right now, I?m writing this article while viewing the Google document support page in another window. For people who demand productivity over social and gaming apps in their mobile devices, multiple windows can be the deal breaker.