05 April 2016

Ars Technica: “This is Android N’s freeform window mode”

We'll get to the instructions, but first let's talk about what's actually here. Freeform window mode is just what we imagined. It's a dead ringer for Remix OS—multiple Android apps floating around inside windows—and it might be the beginnings of a desktop operating system. It works on Android N phones and tablets, and once the mode is enabled, you'll see an extra button on thumbnails in the Recent Apps screen. To the left of the "X" button that pops up after a second or two, there will be a square shape—the same ugly placeholder art Google used for the split screen mode in the Android M Developer Preview.

Ron Amadeo

Looks a lot like Windows! – in fact it’s curious how all major desktop operating systems gravitate towards this interaction model. Windows 8’ attempt to replace it with full-screen apps didn’t go down well with people, so Windows 10 brought back the familiar windows with title bar and buttons; iOS started making baby-steps in this direction with split-screen mode on iPad Pros; and now Android too. It does address a commonly raised complaint about the poorly optimized software on Google’s Pixel C tablet, but also raises an interesting question: if future versions of Android come with good multitasking on large screens by default, will Chrome OS still have a future?

Freeform window mode running on the Android N Developer Preview
“Freeform window mode” running on the Android N Developer Preview.

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