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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  11. Craig Campbell Friday, October 5, 2012

    A nice little touch is that from the multi-window launch bar, if you just tap one of the apps, it launches full screen. This makes the multi-window launch bar a nice little access-anywhere quick launcher. Now, if only we could add apps to it….. :-)

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  12. Craig Campbell Friday, October 5, 2012

    One more thing – Kevin (or anyone else with a Note II), do you remember if Chrome was included out of the box on the original build? I absolutely did NOT install Chrome before the update (I usually do on most phones, but hadn’t done so yet on this one) and after the update, I noticed Chrome was there.

    I don’t remember if Chrome was there on the original build, or if this update perhaps included it?

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    1. Nope, it was not there for me; I specifically downloaded and installed it prior to the update. However, it no longer appears in my “Downloaded Apps” section of the Apps menu. Interesting!

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      1. Craig Campbell Friday, October 5, 2012

        Yeah, actually I just watched your quick look video (which weirdly slowed down in the middle for a few minutes and you sounded like Darth Vader for a while) and saw you mention that you had downloaded Chrome. I have to say, your titanium grey/black Note looks awesome. I’m starting to regret getting the white one!! Mind you, I plan to get a flip cover and I see they’re releasing them in all sorts of colours!

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  13. David Anderson Friday, October 5, 2012

    You say feature, I say gimmick. When is this truly useful?

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  14. I went to local deal, demo piece didnt have this “multi window” feature. I ask Samsung India live support, they said, No, this feature is not offering in Note 2.

    I told him about that Korean version video, he said he cant tell anything about other country. He can support only about Indian products.

    I sm hopless! Does USA or UK support team confirmed about this feature?

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  15. HELP!!!!! I just got my note 2 but I don’t have this feature…. I did the upgrade on my phone settings but still not getting working. I go to my phone settings and says that my device has the latest firmware. I tried to use kies and same thing it says is has the latest firmware version. I may be doing it wrong since this is my first android phone….. and yeah my previous phone was an iPhone. I love this device its awesome but with the minor detail of not knowing how to get the 2apps running.I’m on AT&T ..
    Thank you very much in advanced .

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    1. Fernando, if your latest software update added the feature, you can access it by holding down the back button (to the right of the Home hardware button). If you hold that button and nothing happens, then your update might not have included it. What’s the build number of your software? Mine is JRO03C.N7100XXALJ1

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      1. THANNK YOU for replaying . I do hold down the back button but nothing happens…. and the build number is JRO03C.N7100BALI8. when I got it was in Spanish (United States) so I change it to English ( United States ). Thank you aging for your help.

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  16. I can confirm that the multi-window feature works on third party launchers (I am currently using Nova Launcher which absolutely flies on the note 2)…

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    1. spacetraveller Monday, December 17, 2012

      @intrigger, how did yo make Nova Laucher do multi-window? I have Nova Laucher Prime, but I can’t figure out how?

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  17. How does multi-view edit and add apps function work? I cant seem to get this configured. For the way I use the Note”2 accessing my files through Astro or the generic solution would be great!

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    1. Simon, the function isn’t available for all apps, so if you don’t see Astro there, that’s why. Not sure on the rhyme or reason for which third-party apps are eligible and which aren’t. Could be up to Samsung or it may be a switch that a developer needs to set.

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      1. Thanks for the feedback… I can see on videos an edit button, which my version does not seem to run. I have tried dragging icons to the recycle bin, long presses etc but no joy so far!

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        1. Right, the Edit button will show you all of the multi-view apps; you can drag/pull them out of the menu at that point if you want. But you can’t manually add new ones. :(

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  18. I got my note2 on Oct-8 ,but till now I didnt receive the update. I cant run the multi windows. The curent ver. 4.1.1 but it is released for United Arab of Emarats. Mean while , two of my freinds received the updat on there note2 and they have the same coyntry. I go to update screen but it says system is up to date. Would you please advice

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    1. Im facing the same problem, if you know how to fix it im kindley requesting ur help.. :)

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  19. Hi im facing a problem with my galaxy note 2 ,if i want to to open 2 apps in 1 page i hold the back botton but nothing appears to me and it’s not working. :/
    I wounder if there is something with the settings to fix this.
    Can u help me please?..

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    1. There are no settings to fix this; you have to wait until you get the software update that supports it. :(

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  20. Hi there, I just got the note2 in the US today from T-Mobile and i do not have this feature yet! I like you was really looking forward to this feature. Also I own the note 10.1 and this feature is not on there either? You wouldn’t happen to know when I may receive this update do you?? I press n hold the back button on either device and i get nothing!

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    1. Kevin, on your 10.1, try opening a browser window. Then look along the top left and you should see “Multiscreen”- tap that and you’ll have a list of apps to choose from. Along the top is also where you will be able to swap the two windows from side to side. Look for this same menu at the top of other apps too! Hope that helps!

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  21. Well this is really important to all those users who are going to buy Note 2, I just get it. There is one big mistake on S3 and Note 2. You really cant install apps on SDCard and like older models you can move to SDCard too by going in application manager and application details page.

    Be warned and spread the word. Just buy high memory version or if you are ok with less memory and you dont install much apps than fine.

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  22. I have he note 2. I haven’t been able to run multiple apps. When I hold the back button nothing happens. Is this option only for certain versions

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  23. I have the note 2. I haven’t been able to run multiple apps. When I hold the back button nothing happens. Is this option only for certain versions

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    1. Stacy, on my verizon note two you can turn multi window on and off from the menus that are in the notification bar that appears when you pull down from the top of the screen from the home screen, which also lets you access settings, notifications, etcetera. You slide the bar with the different icons all the way to the left and the multi window on and off icon is on the far right.

      also, if you go to Settings under display, there’s an on and off switch for the multi screen function. Again, this is on Verizon, not rooted.

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  24. Yea mine says up to date as well but no multitasking when the back is long pressed

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  25. thanks for the tutorial which was sweet and kept my note II going on multi- window

    vijay from bangalore. India

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    1. sheila pratcher Tuesday, November 20, 2012

      Can you talk and surf the interneto

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  26. Does anyone know why the emails automatically delete themselves from the inbox?

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  27. I agree the multi windows feature is great and I find myself using it a lot. Only one problem, I don’t have the Edit button. Any ideas?

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  28. i cant get my back button to work to get multitasked

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  29. Melodie Bryant Monday, November 19, 2012

    The multi window doesn’t come up for me with the back button. But I find it in the alerts section at the top (far right). Then it works just the same. Way cool!

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  30. Doesnt work. I long press the back button and it will NOT go into this mode! What the heck!

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  31. I just got galaxy note 2 yesterday and when I hit my back button nothing happens…

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  32. my note 2 dont have that feature how do I update it?

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  33. Thank You, Ive been trying to figure out how to do this since I got this phone a few days ago :)

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  34. Hi! How did you add other apps to the multi window panel? Thanks :)

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  35. Just purchased the Note 2 last night (Verizon US version, if that matters.) I would like to be able to multiscreen with Facebook, which I know is possible but it isn’t showing in my list and I can’t do it by running FB first. Any idea how to make it appear?

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  36. Arnab Chakladar Monday, December 3, 2012

    how did you add facebook to the program launcher dock thingy on the side? i was able to get a couple of the pre-populated applications off it by using the edit button but i can’t add anything. dragging and dropping applications onto that “dock” doesn’t work.

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  37. What people are failing to realize here is the potential for ditching the laptop altogether, using multiple windows on a larger monitor.

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  38. Hi All,

    I am using Galaxy Note 2. The floating menu that appears on the main screen has suddenly disappeared from my screen. Can anyone help me by giving information of how to get that floating bar on my screen again?

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    1. Press and hold the Back button to make the bar appear or disappear.

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  39. I am having te same problem with trying to add apps that are approved to the multi menu bar. I cant put Chrome, talk, facebook or youtube on and those are the ones I use the most. It doesnt work either if I start them first. Why is this not the same on all versions.

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