Split screen view is great and all, but you wont have a true desktop OS until someone can figure out how to get Android apps into an actual window mode. You know, like Windows. Well, it appears Google has done that, hiding the functionality inside of the recently released Android N preview. Unfortunately at the time of N’s launch, nobody knew how to enable it. After receiving some help from Zhuowei Zhang, the folks at Ars Technica were able this latent ability up and running on the Pixel C, Google’s latest Android tablet.
Turns out it runs exactly how you’d expect — Android apps can be resized and dragged around a desktop in windows form. Although it works on both Android tablets and phones, it seems better suited for a larger display like a tablet. Selecting recent apps will now display an icon in the upper right corner of the app allowing you to pull the app into a freeform window view. There isn’t a true desktop yet, windows just float above a wallpapered background without any icons or anything. When resizing the window size of apps, you’ll see them convert between tablet and phone layouts accordingly.
When tapping the recents button, open apps displayed as tiny thumbnails up top
So is this a hint of things to come? Could we finally see a full fledged Android desktop OS launching soon? If the new mouse support is any indication (mouse icon changes to a resize icon when moving to the edge of apps), it certainly seems that way. But things are still very early. Ars notes that there’s no actual start menu, no real background play (YouTube stops playing for instance), and no way to bring apps to the front when hidden behind apps. The DPI seems off too, with tons of white space and app bars taking up a large amount of screen real estate.
For more screen shots of Android N’s new freeform window mode, as well as instructions on enabling via a few command line codes, hit up Ars’ full post linked below or watch their video here.