A hidden multi-window mode has been identified and is stirring rumors over possible “Desktop Android” operating system.
While it’s too early to know for certain what Google has up its sleeves, there has been a recent wave of reports suggesting that Android N includes code that would make it possible to run a device in a split-screen mode that would make it possible to run two different applications, side by side.
This is a long awaited feature that is especially desirable for multitasking when using a tablet.
That said, if the reports are to be believed, it appears as though Google is trying to take things beyond that level. Buried within the multi-window code of Android N are mentions of an “experimental freeform windows” mode. The references to that mode occur several times within one of the major system files in Android, the “framework-res.apk”. Within that file, the list of strings occurs next to other options in the “Developer Settings” screen.
Those precise strings also appear in a range of other locations in Android N, as well, such as the SetupWizard and the SystemUI.
That said, the primary place appears to be the framework, which also contains different references to a “maximize” and “close” button which would be a requirement in this type of multi-screen feature. That said, there is reference to “recents freeform workspace” within the SystemUI, which likely notes the list of recently used applications.
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Certain projections have suggested that it will have a resemblance to Remix OS (which is a third party form of Android that is meant for laptops and desktops) or display showing multiple windows as is the case in Samsung smartphones. Therefore, several Android apps would be able to be viewed on a device screen all at the same time. They would be contained within floating windows, mirroring the desktop operating system experience.
The split-screen mode that is reported to be a part of Android N require mobile apps to be resizable as the user needs it. Once the apps can be contained in smaller and larger windows, it won’t be long before the rest of a completely windowed OS can be created.