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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22 Comments

1. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

But you need 16 GB of RAM....hahahahaha

2. tedkord

Posts: 16975; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

If it needs it, it will have it. As always, it will be miles ahead of the competition, and your tears will flow like a river.

5. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

My tears already flow but from laughing.

6. 444777

Posts: 399; Member since: May 02, 2016

No from jealousy. My advise to you is. You must have an iPhone. .? Make sure you down grade to ios5. Since you belive ios9 and 8 is gimmicks. Make sure you don't use any features.

9. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Laughing at your own stupidity and ignorance of how computers work.

12. tedkord

Posts: 16975; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I don't blame you. I would probably laugh looking down at that phone you've got in your hand, too.

7. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Yep because more features needs more RAM. The more RAM the more you can do. Better than paying for it and not getting it. TROLL!

14. Well-Manicured-Man

Posts: 639; Member since: Jun 16, 2015

Not really. Apple solved multi window and picture in picture with 2gb of ram with the iPad Air 2. It works flawlessly and is the benchmark for multi window support. However, Apple does only offer multi window for the iPad. :(

15. 444777

Posts: 399; Member since: May 02, 2016

Ios doesn't have apps running constantly at the background like Android. That's why.

19. DnB925Art

Posts: 1164; Member since: May 23, 2013

Um, Samsung had PiP and Multiwindow on 2GB devices (Note 2) and had it running on 1GB of RAM on the S3.

3. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

I will care about it in 2020 when it will have over 5% market share.

20. DnB925Art

Posts: 1164; Member since: May 23, 2013

And at 5% share, that's more than the total number of iOS devices out there.

4. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1182; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

Google should just block major system customization, which would speed up updates to a whole new level. Manufactures these days creates more bloat than actually making it better. They can change the UI, but not the system files itself. The UI would be a layer on top of the system, which means, google can freely update the core systems and the UI won't be affected. Open Source means that they can use the source files to create something new, what manufactures now doing is not, it's just android with some UI and some apps from themselves.

10. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

NO THEY SHOULDNT. Because then everyone phone would be the same. Samsung could directly send updates to phones, if they didnt have to deal with carriers. All they have to do is force carriers to make their apps available in the app store, like every other dev and the problem will be solved. I dont care if I ever get an update on my Android. My Note will do more than any release Android or iOS device for the next 3 years minimum. I know when I do get an update, it will be done right. It will have been thoroughly tested and my device will work as expected afterwards.

21. cherry.dev

Posts: 107; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

3rd party apps look the same no matter what ROM/phone you use anyway..

11. tedkord

Posts: 16975; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

That's not how open-source works.

13. catze86

Posts: 731; Member since: Dec 07, 2015

Just buy that boring phone a.k.a Nexus

8. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Hopefully now that Google finally support multi-window at the OS level, Samsung can use this in their apps and use Google API for this and not at the TouchWiz level. That way TW will be even less of a weight on the device performance.

16. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Devs already use Multi-window API by Samsung in bunch of apps. I dont think Samsung will add this API since it will be a waste.

17. Settings

Posts: 2940; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

7:00 says on the clock. You know what that means.

18. UglyFrank

Posts: 2188; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Samsung is basically the source of Android's new features yet again

22. dmomintz

Posts: 66; Member since: Jan 21, 2016

Why put the Clear All button at the top of the UI? I hope that's adjustable because that is bush league UI design... No important buttons should be put out of reach of the thumb, they should be easily accessed.

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