Multitasking magic may be near

Why 2015 may be the year of multiple mobile apps on one screen

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

One of the best features on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 I bought in 2012 is surprisingly still fairly scarce on other devices. The 5.5-inch phone gained the ability to run two apps on the screen at one time thanks to a software update. Samsung has since used this function on many of its larger phones and tablets; I can see why since it’s so useful.

Browser and Twitter on Galaxy Note 2

Few other companies have followed suit here, which is a bit baffling, particularly since phones are getting larger displays which are perfectly suited for this type multitasking. Some companies are slowly coming around though.

Acer’s latest Iconia Tab 8, for example, has a split-screen mode according to Liliputing. This lets you choose from a selection of apps that can run in a half-window, similar to how Samsung’s implementation works. LG also has a split-screen mode on its G3 flagship Android phone. [company]Microsoft[/company] Windows tablets let you “snap” several apps on-screen simultaneously. And code in iOS 8 has hinted at Apple adding the same function: I could easy see it on [company]Apple[/company] iPads and maybe even on the iPhone 6 Plus.

Surface 2 multitasking

As a result, this trend is picking up a little steam. Enough to become a game-changer in 2015? I think so, for a few reasons.

The increased display size of phones — and the more mainstream acceptance of them — is a big reason why. We’re also looking to do more on our mobile devices and if we can do that in a manner that’s more efficient or faster, then people will be apt to embrace it. Computers have long had the ability to multitask with several apps on a single screen. This coming year may be the one where more of our phones and tablets can do the same, adding to the transition from traditional computing to the devices in our hand.

I’d be curious to hear thoughts from readers who have used these split screen options. If your device supports them, are you using them, and why?

6 Responses to “Why 2015 may be the year of multiple mobile apps on one screen”

  1. Eric Horton

    I have multi windows running 4.4.4 KitKat on my ASUS Transformer Tf101. It is useful when taking notes and researching (yes, I attend night classes). I used to switch all the time and had to copy-paste which could constitute plagiarism. With the split screen, I can read and translate in my own words on the go. (Wow, it is like Windows 3.11. Remember?) Any way, the windowed option I don’t use. It is cumbersome with the screen size and touch, but the split screen is handy.

  2. iOS and Android do not support any form of true real-time multitasking unlike Microsoft Windows 8 and other devices that have been around for a few years now.

    Plus how can you have multitasking support on Apple iOS product then they intentionally hobble their devices with as little ram as possible so you will be forced to buy the new model which does add more ram each and every product cycle?

    I mean 1GB of ram is the max you get with any iOS device which is pretty sad.


      @hundoman What you fail to realize is iOS is running a lean Big Endian NetBSD. It’s hyper efficient does not need more than 1GB.

      Windows 8.1 and Android run a compressed OS architecture. They cheat because those OSs are bloated beyond belief. That’s why iOS devices run longer with smaller batteries. The only reason Windows 8.1 and Android need more RAM and pretty much more of everything is because of the sloppy code underpinnings.

      Linux is much slower than higher order UNIX systems but then again you don’t have to pay for it. What’s Microsoft’s selling point? Oh that’s right that’s why they started giving away the OS for free.

      Besides have even worked the usability of tile/Metro to desktop mode switching. It’s a waste of time. Windows 8.1 is an ergonomically unsound operating system it hides apps in the background so that you can get back to them quicker but uses up as much juice as TSR DOS apps. It’s going to be 2015 in a couple of days and Windows lacks multiple app task switching capabilities.

      I can get more done with my iPhone than what most people can do with a full size Windows Tablet that’s how horrible Windows 8.1 is. The precision of my iPhone compared to your 10 point touch tablet is astounding. This is why Microsoft is losing relevance. Windows 8.1 is the least modern OS on the planet. And the numbers speak for themselves.

  3. Rann Xeroxx

    Been doing this since Surface RT and ever since on every Windows tablet I have run. Its not only running two apps side by side, its the interactions between those apps such as IE will launch a side snapped app if you choose “open in another window” on a link or twitter will launch web links into the snapped app as opposed to other open and running IE instants. There is also the Sharing Charm that allows interaction between apps and such.

    One thing I will give Samsung credit for is their ability to run 4 snapped apps and resizing them via dragging where all the corners meet. That is just very cool. Otherwise you are very limited as to which apps you can run together.

  4. DealForALiving

    I’m with William Haven on this one – the rumored Ipad Pro would definitely get us to the year of multiple mobile apps. And since Samsung usually goes big with screen sizes, we’ll have a 15.6″ super-thin competitor in no time that can manage 4 apps at once.

  5. William Haven

    Does the iPad Air 2 need a faster processor with three cores? Or 3GB of RAM? Last year’s iPad Air didn’t have any trouble running its 2048×1536 screen with a two core A7 processor and one GB RAM.

    Gazing into my crystal ball, I think the reason why the iPad Air 2 is overbuilt with processor and ram is to run two apps in split screen mode. Split screen will be a natural when the rumored iPad Pro with 12 inch screen is added next Spring. At that time, iOS will be updated to support split screen with two active apps.