Google improves the multi-tasking in Android N with better task switcher, multi-window, and actionable notifications

Google's I/O event is currently ongoing and, as expected, we are getting an update on what's coming with the next major Android build when it launches (or when it hits the Developer Builds, for you impatient fans).

It seems that “do more with your phone” is an ongoing theme – we saw some impressive improvements to the Google Assistant, the new Allo chat app, which lets you interact with Google without leaving the app at all, and now, we've been presented with two new multi-tasking features.

Of course, there's the upcoming multi-window option, but there are also a couple of improvements in the task switcher. The latter finally gets a “Clear all” button! And, just to make sure that your Recent Apps screen doesn't get too cluttered when you don't clear it, Android N will automatically remove apps that you haven't used in a while. Another new feature is “Quick Switch” – by double-tapping the Recent Apps virtual button, you will immediately switch to the last app you were using — kind of like how alt+tab works on a PC.

Multi-window is launched simply by long-tapping Recents menu. The button itself will change from a square shape to two rectangles, representing the split screen. The demo we saw on stage showed us that once the second screen pops up, you get to pick which app will fill it from your Recent Apps. Currently, there's no way to know if you will actually be able to choose and open absolutely any app in spli-screen mode.

There's also a picture-in-picture mode, but it seems to be limited to Android TV only, which is kind of a downer. It allows you to minimize any video from fullscreen to just a small window and use your Android TV interface, while the video continues to play. We kind of hope that it will someday come to Android tablets as well.

Additionally, we get more actionable notifications. Come Android N, we will be able to reply directly from a chat notification, without having to switch to the respective app. Additionally, if we don't want to be bothered by a specific app right now, long-pressing a notification will let us choose to either mute just that type of message, or block the app completely.

Of course, some manufacturers already have some of these features baked in their custom Android skins. But come the N update, they will all be native to Google's OS!

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