The addition of a split-screen feature to the underlying Android ecosystem was among the biggest additions since its inception but how does one actually access the feature. In fact, it was a big enough addition that it was eventually added to Chromebooks via an Android update too. And, of course, it works as well with Android tablet hardware as with phones. But it’s not necessarily well-explained anywhere in the UI.
There are some differences between how OEMs have implemented the tool. And that’s exactly why this guide exists. To examine and parse out the primary ways the feature is implemented and how you can access it.
For clarity, the split-screen feature we’re talking about in this article was added way back in Android 7.0. Summarily, it allows users to open more than one app simultaneously. And, in some cases, for those apps to run simultaneously. That way, users can multitask, regardless of what they’re trying to do.
For instance, a user might open up a finance-related app such as a spreadsheet or bank app. They might then open up a calculator or another finance app. All of the information that might be needed to set up a budget or check balances can, effectively, be open and on-screen at once. And users just need to navigate each as they normally would but without alternating between different apps through the Recent Apps view.
Conversely, a user might open up a YouTube video or some other media app on their smartphone. If a text message or other message comes in, they can then use the split-screen tool to respond in a larger format than the notifications shade allows for, all while continuing to watch or listen.
Here’s how to use split-screen on your Android phone
How this feature appears on your Android phone, exactly, will effectively fall into two categories. There will, of course, be just a few exceptions to that, depending mostly on OEM integration of the feature. But, since Google baked split-screen into Android now, it should appear on just about every new Android smartphone.
It’s worth bearing in mind, as well, that not every app supports split-screen. Others that do support split-screen on Android smartphones don’t necessarily support it well. Those that don’t support the feature will simply not be openable in a split-screen view. For those that do, but with issues, apps may appear stretched or shrunken down, not filling the entire available space.
There’s not always an easy or clear way to see which apps don’t support it or will have problems either. So getting a handle on how any specific app, phone, or game handles multitasking via split-screen may require some experimentation.
With that said, the process itself couldn’t be simpler, if not more intuitive. To open apps in split-screen, users must first;
Google has other big changes coming for these features too
The split-screen features as they’re currently found on Android smartphones are already useful. The feature provides a way to get two things done at once, whether multitasking for productivity or for entertainment. Or more, for those phones that have a floating window option for apps and a big enough screen. But Google has plans to make things even better in Android 12 with a feature dubbed App Pairs.