61 Comments

Summary:

The Galaxy Note 2 model for the Korean market has a nifty multi-window feature, but my international version of the 5.5-inch Android phone didn’t have it. Now it does thanks to a software update and this nifty functionality is quite useful on a larger display.

Samsung's Galaxy Note II

That was fast! I only just received Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 on Thursday and found a small software update waiting on Friday morning. My first look video of this 5.5-inch smartphone showed some of nice software features but one that I was looking forward to was missing. No longer: Now I can run two applications simultaneously on the large screen, which I find can be very useful.

Browser and Facebook on Galaxy Note 2

When I first decided to order the international version of this phone from the U.K. and have it shipped to me in the U.S., I had said that this feature was intriguing, and part of the reason why I bought the device. I saw the multi-window support in a video demonstration of the Korean Galaxy Note 2; Samsung first launched the device in its home country. Unfortunately, after getting my phone, I noticed the build version was older than the Korean model. No longer. This morning’s update added it and it’s pretty slick, provided you have a large enough screen to take advantage of.

Now, when I press and hold the back button of the Galaxy Note 2, a little dock-like program launcher appears. I can drag any of the app shortcuts from the dock and the program will open in a half-screen window, either above or below the currently running app. A bar between the two running apps can be dragged to resize an app as well.

And although I originally thought only specific Samsung apps would be eligible for multi-window use, I was wrong. I’ve installed several third-party apps and they appear in the dock as well. So I can browse the web in the top half of the screen while my Twitter client shows tweets in the bottom, for example.

This feature first appeared on Samsung’s larger Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, and it probably makes more sense there: The larger the screen the easier it is to work with two apps at the same time. But here’s where the Galaxy Note 2’s 5.5-inch display becomes an enabling tool, not a detriment. Yes, it’s a big phone — or a small tablet with voice capabilities, if you prefer — but sometimes bigger is better.

  1. Jack N Fran Farrell Friday, October 5, 2012

    Great productivity feature for collaborative hangout on g+. Now you don’t have to switch screens to fix a PowerPoint chart in front of everyone. The endless round of collect comments, fix the briefing, comment on fixes is over.

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    1. Bingo! I see a number of potential use cases.

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  2. I wonder why Google does not provide this kind of functionality in stock android, at least for tablets. Is there any technical reason?

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  3. Uhm. Why doesn’t my Samsung Galaxy S3 have this?

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    1. Your screen is too small;)

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    2. Your sceeen sizen is not big enough. I have the note 2 and gs3 and anything smaller than the note wouldn’t be able to function properly when you need to use the keyboard. They have to downsize it greatly when you are in multiview (still completely usable) but with the 4.8 inch screen I dont think they could pull it off so nicely.

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  4. blevinsdavidlester Friday, October 5, 2012

    How much of this kind of stuff will be available to the Note 1?

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    1. I’m sure at the very least, the chefs at XDA will cook something up for you

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  5. It’d be nice to see a video to see it in action. (hint…hint…)

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  6. how do you add other apps to that dock?? I am strugging to do so

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    1. Andy, I don’t think you can manually add apps to the dock. If you tap the edit button, you can *remove* apps and add them back. It appears that Samsung picks/chooses which are compatible for now. Not ideal, but better than on the Note 10.1, which doesn’t support third-party apps at all IIRC.

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  7. Jason Antoniewicz Friday, October 5, 2012

    Where’s the settings for it? (I’m not using TouchWiz).

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    1. No real settings… tap and hold the back button for the dock to appear and then drag an app to the display for dual window mode. If you’re not running TouchWiz, my guess is this may not be there at all. What ROM are you running, out of curiosity? I’m a custom ROM junkie…. ;)

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      1. My bad, you’re probably just running a custom launcher. Forget my ROM question. ;)

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      2. Jason Antoniewicz Friday, October 5, 2012

        Hi Kevin. No ROM – I ditched computers in June and the last I knew was that it’s not currently possible to root your phone without using a computer, so I’ll wait until that’s possible, probably. I’m using Nova Launcher and Relaunch (both quite good).

        I’m a bit miffed about the lack of settings and the feature appears to be a bit buggy, but it’s early days.

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  8. Cornerstone, a project open sourced by Onskreen, has been providing this style of multi-tasking on Android for over a year. Here is a demo video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezvAs759rbg

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  9. I don’t know how useful this is on a smartphone, especially one smaller than the Note, but it’s DEFINITELY useful on tablets, and I wish Google brought true multi-tasking to tablets a long time ago. This is also where quad core CPU’s would definitely make a difference compared to single core (looking at you Intel Atom Medfield) or dual core chips.

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  10. Great how about texting next to your GPS app…..insurance is for ladies…..

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