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OnePlus has the best answer to multitasking on a foldable
If you’re eyeing up a foldable phone, there’s a good chance you want to run two apps at a time. Maybe you even want to add a third to achieve peak productivity. The only problem is that most foldables default to cramming extra apps into smaller and smaller windows, making them tougher to use correctly. OnePlus is the exception. It must have been listening when a teacher said to think outside the box because it did just that and came up with the best solution for multitasking on a foldable phone with the OnePlus Open.
2+1 > 3
Don’t get me wrong — the multitasking limit is still three apps. Monty Python’s Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch was correct when its instructions declared that “three shall be the number of the counting.” However, the OnePlus Open treats its trio as more of a two-plus-one rather than a true three. That means you’re almost always looking at a pair of full-sized apps spread across the Open’s 7.82-inch display, with the third one just a swipe away to the left or right side.
OnePlus calls its novel approach to multitasking Open Canvas, and it probably deserves a few points for the branding alone. Naming aside, the final product means you’re never cramming apps into areas where they just don’t fit. If we’re honest, opening three apps on Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 leaves two of them feeling like they’re on the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s Flex Window — cramped and compromised. Open Canvas skips the inconvenience by simply holding your app off to the side until you need it.
I prefer two large windows and a swipe to three small ones... don't you?
If you need all three apps at once — and sometimes that happens — the triptych layout is just a gesture away. Any time you want all three apps visible, you can pinch on the display with four fingers, and your trio will shrink into iPhone-Mini-like windows lined up across the center of the display. You can tap, swipe, and type on any of the three — just be ready for a little bit of sensory overload.
Personally, I find that the two-plus-one setup offers the best overall experience. It’s the perfect travel companion, especially with a calendar full of tech events in New York. I find myself using a combination of Chrome, Google Maps, and Instagram at any one time — the perfect mix of finding a restaurant, checking out its menu, and figuring out how to get there without ever really changing windows. Open Canvas also works well as a fitness buddy, supporting Strava, Spotify, and Nike Training Club simultaneously.
If you want to get crazy with your layout, some apps also work as floating windows, meaning you could hover a fourth app on top of your primary Open Canvas layout. The OnePlus Open also saves your recent layouts in the taskbar, making it easy to swap between Canvases as if you were editing in Photoshop. Yet, I think it could go a step further…
Should other developers copy OnePlus' Open Canvas?
Why stop at three?
Although Open Canvas is already my favorite approach to multitasking on a foldable, I think it could go even further. I’m choosing to ignore the instructions issued with the Holy Hand Grenade and instead wondering what would happen if OnePlus expanded its Open Canvas to two-plus-two or even two-plus-three. After all, we’re already past the point of cramming apps into the Open’s internal display, so why limit ourselves to one extra edge?
This is probably inviting an extra degree of complication, but the OnePlus Open could probably support six apps, with four tucked off to the sides at any one time. Come to think of it, the Pixel Fold would benefit from the same setup, given its wider, passport-like aspect ratio. Granted, there’s almost no reason to use six apps, but it would make the Open Canvas truly open. I could see myself using as many as four at once, holding two on the primary layout, with a full-width Chrome tab tucked to the top or bottom and a social media platform hanging out on the right or left side. Sure, it would probably make the pinch gesture a bit tougher — the Canvas would start to feel more like an abstract painting — but there would be no limit to the options.
In the meantime, I’m happy with what we have. Multitasking on the OnePlus Open feels like the standard that other foldables should aspire to. It joins an excellent set of cameras and refined hardware to round out a first-generation (well, technically) launch that’s among the best on the market.