Diving into M: Multi-window option can be enabled with some work!

by: Andrew GrushMay 29, 2015

Back in March we first reported on how multi-window functionality had been discovered in an Android code commit. While many custom ROMs and OEM skins have had multi-window capabilities for a while, stock Android fans have been long been waiting for such a feature. The good news is that Android M does in fact carry such a function!

Before you get too excited, there’s some bad news, too. First, this is an EXTREMELY early, experimental function. It’s so experimental that you can’t just turn it on in developer options, you first have to edit your build.prop to change user type to “userdebug” before the feature even shows up in dev options.

Want to dive even deeper? Check out our full “Diving into M” series by clicking here.


As you can see in the screenshots at the top of the page, the multi-window mode gives you the power to show two windows side-by-side. You control this functionality through the recent menu by clicking on a new icon that shows up to the left of the (X). Once you do that, you’ll be asked to select the task’s layout. Although the feature seems a bit clunky, it works just fine as far as I can tell and I’ve had no problems with crashing or other issues while playing around with it. I’m currently testing this on a Nexus 5 though, and so it’s a bit cramped, but obviously such a feature is a much better fit for tablets or big-screen phones.

Multi-window is certainly one of the things we’ve long been asking for, but considering the hoops that must be crossed to turn this on, we wouldn’t bet on this coming to Android M as a stable (non-dev) feature. Then again, you never know. What do you think of Android M’s new multi-window function? Let us know in the comments.

  • Boonerski

    Android M? “M” may stand for “multi-window functionality”.

    • Danny Johnson

      Or Muffin :D

    • Guest123

      Multi Muffin

    • Choda Boy

      Or Memory Leak…

    • JJameson

      Multiple Muffin Milkshake… Meow?

    • helenjs

      My next android phone will be a nexus

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  • Bruno Vieira

    The option doesn’t seam to be available on Nexus 9 using android m developer preview

    • Patrick Cadden-Derrick

      Because, like the article said, you need to edit your build.prop

      • Bruno Vieira

        Thx didnt read that detail

        • Andrew Grush

          It’s not too hard really, just takes a few minutes if you know what’s involved. Honestly though, it’s rather primitive at this stage ,so I don’t see myself using it much. Could be wrong though.

  • This looks so much like what Samsung did on TouchWiz

    • Connor Bunten

      What’s your point?
      Multi-window functionality is good, LG did it also, and it is something I personally would love to have built in to stock.

      • Calm down. I was just making a comment about its similarities.

  • Wait, step back….how did you get root to work in order to change the build.prop, I heard no one has had any luck with root yet.

    • Arsene’s zip

      adb pull
      adb push

      • Andrew Grush

        Yep. That’s what I did. :)

        • Arsene’s zip

          Likewise, to change dpi.

        • Ashutosh Upadhyaya

          I could not get it done……..Is there any link for a handy guide……Please help!!!

      • Mattouts

        i can’t adb push, some help ?

  • LocalNHBoy

    Even when I open developer options and turn on secondary displays all it does it overlay a smaller display of the current screen. It does NOT let me visit two different screens at the same time. Rooted Samsung Galaxy s4 running NovaLauncher.

    • Jack Jennings

      You might want to read the article one more time…

    • Marcellus1

      Are you talking about the same thing? As is shown in the screenshots, the option in Developer Options, after modifying the build.prop, is “Multi-Window Mode” and is not “secondary displays”. That sounds like something completely different.

      • LocalNHBoy

        That must be it….the only option I have is “Simulate Secondary Displays” and I’m not cool enough to know how to modify build.prop :(

  • pierre

    how many apps does it work on

    • Andrew Grush

      I haven’t had time to install very many apps yet (will do in next few days) — but so far, every app seems to work. Will test with games later, I imagine that’s where problems lie… :)

  • Omar Soliman

    i have install android M on My nexus 5 but i cant see multi window option

  • Vishal Kumar

    And how the hell did u guys change user to userdebug without rooting??

    • Andrew Grush

      I’d say magic. But nope, nothing that mystical. I just did an adb pull, adb push. No root was required. Did need custom recovery installed though. :)

  • Simone Frigato

    Nutella :D

  • Vedant Matta

    Works on N5?

    • Andrew Grush

      Yes, that is the device I’m using here. :)

  • Does this work for multiple activities from the same app? Like two Chrome “tabs” side-by-side, or two different Google Docs documents? That would be extremely useful.

    Also, extremely relieved that Google actually intends on including multi-window support eventually, even if it doesn’t end up in M. My Nexus 10 (and all 10-inch tablets) really would benefit from this!

  • furquah

    Should I install Android M on my Honor Phone.

  • IHaveM

    i just now enabled this feature and is quite smooth way better than the module i had on xposed.

  • Nadeem

    What about Mango ;-)

  • candy80

    %%%⚔⚔⚔=———-.½½½½½ androidauthority —->SEE fine INFO< <<<< >>

  • mola2alex

    It better be in the final release, they did mention bringing in some of the open source enhancements into the core of Android at IO so maybe this is samsungs contribution.

    And it is milkshake not muffin.

  • Choda Boy

    I hope they continue to work toward the multi-window, pop-up view, bubble functionality in TouchWiz. It is extremely well done and quite useful on my Note 4.

  • Debojyoti Jana

    If it can replace Samshit then obviously its awesome!

  • furquah

    I don’t know how to this but yes its very interesting screen