Want to get a couple people arguing about mobile device interface design? Raise the topic of windowed apps. To some, windowing represents an inevitable step forward for maturing mobile platforms, embracing the aesthetic of the desktop and empowering users to reach new heights of productivity. Others will view it as a move backwards, one away from a clean one-handed UX and relying too strongly on misguided nostalgia. While we’ve seen individual efforts from certain OEMs in delivering a modern multi-window UI on their phones, Android’s lacked a central framework for such software operation – at least so far. Work behind the scenes has been hinting that the platform could one day formally embrace multi-window mode, and now the latest evidence is making the rounds.
Last we checked in with the feature, it was described more as a split-screen layout than a full-on windowed mode, sharing screen real estate between two programs.
This new evidence comes to us from an AOSP commit, disabling a feature in an effort to resolve a bug, delivered with the note that it will be “reenabled for multiwindows.” Well, maybe “new” is the wrong word, as this edit went through back near the end of January, but stuff like this has a tendency to fly by under the radar until someone spots it – and that’s just happening now.
Truth be told, this doesn’t put us any closer to knowing just when Android multi-window support might go live, nor exactly how it would function. The important takeaway, as far as you should be concerned, is that efforts to deliver multi-window appear to still be underway. That is to say, this feature is coming sooner or later, and the more efforts like this one we spot, the better that “sooner” business starts sounding.