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'App Pairs' could transform how we use big screen Android phones

Could we see the ability to launch two apps simultaneously in Android 12 as well?

Published onJanuary 21, 2021

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  • Google is reportedly working on tweaking its split-screen feature for Android.
  • Dubbed App Pairs, the system could potentially allow users to launch two apps simultaneously.
  • It would be a big productivity boost for users of large display or foldable Android phones.

Smartphone displays are growing ever larger but the software to utilize all this space hasn’t quite kept up. On Android 11, you can use two apps simultaneously, but the implementation remains clunky. Now, this feature could get a welcome refresh in Android.

According to a report by 9to5Google, the next version of the OS could see the debut of “App Pairs”. The feature would allow users to group two apps together.

While details remain scant on the feature’s exact benefits, the implication here is that you could pick two complementary apps to exist as a single task in Android. While it’s not outright suggested, it’s also possible that users could launch the two apps simultaneously negating the need to launch them sequentially then splitting the screen. This would let users skip a step in the clunky workflow, and would be particularly helpful on larger display devices like tablets and foldables.

9to5Google created a mockup of how the feature may be implemented, highlighting the suggested use of a single task card for two apps on Android’s Recents screen. Users may then be able to swap between it and other apps in the Recents menu.

App Pairs is a feature that a number of manufacturers have implemented in their own UI designs. Samsung calls its split-screen feature App Pair but requires the use of the Edge panel. Microsoft lets users pair apps on the Surface Duo‘s launcher allowing the dual-screen device to open two apps on the two screens. Both are more intuitive than Android’s current system using the Recents app screen.

It’s unclear when App Pairs could make its bow, but it’s likely Google would want to get it melded to Android 12. As big displays become the norm, it’s important that Android keeps pace with this trend.

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