In the past couple of years, smartphone design has started to become weird again. Instead of just rectangular glass slabs, we now have foldable phones that open like a book into a tablet, we have clamshell foldables like the Galaxy Z Flip, and even phones with two separate panels connected via a hinge such as the Surface Duo. While OEMs have come up with a few software tricks to make the most of these new form factors when it comes to productivity, Android itself hasn’t undergone many changes to realize the full potential. As per a fresh leak though, an upcoming Android 12 feature called ‘App Pairs’ will help with the split-screen multitasking experience to a large extent.
9to5Google reports that App Pairs will group two apps together into one task if they’re working in a split-screen view. Or in simple words, the system will recognize them as a single task. “What this should mean is that you’ll be able to pick two of your recently opened apps to become a pair. Once paired, you should be able to easily swap to using a different single app and then swap back to the pair you created,” says the report.
If you are using two apps in split-screen view on Android 11 or an older build, you can not open the task overview and switch to using another app in full-screen mode. Instead, you get a condensed view where other apps appear as smaller cards in the task overview, and when you tap one of those cards, that app opens in the bottom half of the screen in split-screen mode. So essentially, you can not switch between using two-apps in split-screen mode and a third-app in full-window mode. For now, you are forced to kill the split-screen view first, and this is annoying.
With App Pairs, when you open the task overview while working with two apps simultaneously in split-screen mode, these two apps will appear as a single card in the task switcher. From there you can swipe other cards to open another app in full-screen mode, and return back to the split-view with two apps running simultaneously whenever you want. In simple words, you don’t have to kill the split-screen mode to use another app in full-screen mode once Android 12 arrives.
Now, OEMs have done this in the past by letting users create a shortcut of two apps that opens them in a split-screen mode with a single tap, but that’s not really the same thing that Google wants to achieve here. We’re not too far away before the first developer preview of Android 12 drops, and it would be exciting to see how the App Pairs feature works in real life.