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Samsung's recent Android 4.1.2 upgrade for the Galaxy Note 10.1 adds power and flexibility to the company's unique offering of Android multiwindowing features. With this update, the Galaxy Note 10.1 can run up to 16 multiwindow-enabled Android apps at once, Windows/Mac-like, on a single screen.
Apps endowed with Samsung's multiwindow technology are usable in three viewing modes: full screen, dual view, and cascade view, as shown below.
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To accomplish this, Samsung added a multiwindow app framework to its proprietary Android "TouchWiz" user interface, and tweaked a range of Android apps to support the framework. There currently are 18 multiwindow-enabled apps, including browser, email, contacts, calendar, alarm, calculator, YouTube, video player, office suite, and other frequently-used functions. Presumably, the will grow over time.
Running multiwindow apps
Multiwindow apps can be launched either in the normal manner, from the homescreen or All Apps screens, or from a pop-open "multi window apps tray" conveniently located at the bottom of any screen. The apps tray opens up when you tap the up-arrow in the middle of the screen's lower panel (illustrated on the right).
The screenshot below shows the multiwindow apps tray.
|A pair of buttons located in the lower-left of the apps tray (illustrated on the right) determines whether the apps launched from the tray start in dual-view or cascade-view. However, once one or more multiwindow apps have been launched from the tray, you can switch their modes (as a group) from one view to the other. You can also switch any multiwindow app individually into full-screen view.|
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Manipulating multiwindow apps
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When they are running in either cascade- or dual-view mode, multiwindow apps have three control widgets along their top border, as shown on the left.
Here's how to use the control widgets that appear at the top of multiwindow apps when in cascade- or dual-view mode:
Additionally, you can resize and reposition multiwindow apps. For apps in cascade-view mode...
And for apps in dual-view mode...
Launching multiwindow apps the normal way
Current set of 18 multiwindow apps
The screenshot below shows the launcher-icons for the 18 multiwindow apps that were included in the Galaxy Note 10.1's recent Android 4.1.2 firmware update.
The screenshot above shows the multiwindow apps tray in "edit mode," with which you can determine which apps you want to appear in the tray. To accomplish that, you tap the icons in the tray to move them to the upper area, after which they are hidden from the tray; or tap the ones in the top area to move them down to the tray. You can also drag icons around in the tray to change their position.
Android multiwindow apps demo
Here's a YouTube video tour of Samsung's latest Android multiwindow apps technology:
The bottom line
As the most successful Android device maker ever, Samsung has invested heavily in TouchWiz, which it wraps around Android to add value to its products. The new multiwindow features in the company's Android 4.1.2 update for the Galaxy Note 10.1 push Android's user interface into new territories, adding Windows-like capabilities that are sure to delight many users and aggravate others.
From a practical point-of-view, I don't find Samsung's multiwindow apps to be of much interest, other than for a few pop-up functions such as a calculator, alarm clock, or other occasional use. That's because I make a habit of organizing my tablet's homescreen such that any tool or app can be launched in a tap or two. Still, I'll be curious to see whether Samsung's newly enhanced multiwindow technologies thrive ...or languish.