One thing we miss on our smartphones, in spite of so much software advancement, is the multi-window navigation system, like it’s on our desktops. The best we can do right now is use one app at a time, while others remain hidden in background. We have to switch back and forth to use multiple apps. The bottleneck with Android multi-tasking is that you can run tens of apps in background (like your music player), but run merely one app in the foreground.
Not a suave way of multi-tasking.
Though Samsung tried to augment the concept by allowing its users to run two apps simultaneously in split-screen, the multi-window feature still wasn’t that helpful as it was confined to a limited number of apps and the model was less flexible.
The ideal prototype for multi-window navigation, nonetheless, is the navigation system on popular desktop OS like Windows, Mac and Ubuntu, where you can resize the window size and open as many windows as you want, simultaneously.
A Chinese tablet maker, Chuwi, plans on bringing multi-window navigation feature in its tablets, with the help of chip-maker Rockchip.
Rockchip showed the early prototype of this technology at CES in January, where they showed how their tablet’s OS allowed users to shrink the video window size and move it anywhere while using any other app.
That however was just a start. According to Liliputing, a series of new screenshots show various apps like Android calendar, web browser, calculator, media player and clock running in movable and resizable windows. The navigation system mimics the window navigation system in desktop operating systems like Windows, Mac and others. However, nothing, yet, is known regarding the stability of the interface and whether it would work synchronously with Google’s Android architecture. So far, only native apps have been tested, but whether this architecture would support third-party apps or not remains to be seen.
The multi-window feature is believed to run only on Rockchip processors. Sources say that the new feature would be available on devices running the RK3188 ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core processor and RK3168 ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core CPU.
The distinguishing feature would hopefully draw some attention from buyers. That being said, if Chuwi improvises on the idea, they have a game-changer on their hands. The multi-window feature would be awesome for Android tablets as well as Android TV boxes. I, personally, feel that this feature won’t be that exciting on smartphones as the text, graphics and feel would get too cribbed up, but it would be amazing on devices that are 7 inches or more.
What remains to be seen is how Google and app developers take this initiative up and whether they would tweak their code, if needed, to bring the UI to Android. Regardless of what happens, this is a start of something that we are very likely going to see in the next generation of Android tablets.
Here’s a video showing the running apps in action.