Split-screen multitasking is coming to your Android tablet

Google's new Pixel C will get split-screen multitasking... eventually. Photo: Google

Google’s new Pixel C will get split-screen multitasking… eventually. Photo: Google

Just days after launching its exciting new Pixel C tablet, Google has confirmed that split-screen multitasking is coming to Android.

Android and Chrome UX director Glen Murphy confirmed in a recent Reddit AMA that the company is “spending a lot of time” on developing this feature — and indeed many others — which will give Android tablet owners the ability to run two apps side-by-side.

Android was first to make split-screen multitasking on smartphones and tablets a possibility, but in its purest form — i.e. the Android offered by Google — it’s just not available. That’s a problem now that Google is pushing a premium tablet for productivity like the Pixel C.

If it really wants to compete with devices like the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro, Pixel C needs split-screen multitasking — and Google knows that. “There are many things, like multi-window, that we’ve been spending a lot of time on,” Murphy revealed on Reddit. “Hopefully we can share more about this soon.”

It’s likely we’ll have to wait until Android’s next major update — next year’s Android N — to get a game-changing feature like this, so don’t expect it to drop anytime soon. But it’s certainly nice to know that Google is working on it — especially if you just dropped a lot of money on a Pixel C.

“We’re working on lots of things right now for N that, of course, we wish we had, you know, yesterday,” added Murphy. “But we’d spoil the surprise of N if we shared all of them. Split screen is in the works!”

If you own a Samsung Galaxy tablet, you’re probably screaming, “we’ve had split-screen multitasking for years!” That’s true, but that vast majority of Android vendors aren’t adopting it. Google needs to, and by baking it into pure Android, it will make its way into other third-party devices, too.

Murphy also admitted that there’s a tablet app problem on Android. Unlike iOS, many Android apps still don’t have dedicated or fully-optimized tablet UIs. However, Google is hoping that a device like Pixel C can change that.

“We’re spending a lot of time working with developers to get better and more awesome tablet apps,” Murphy said. “But it is definitely a chicken-egg problem, and we think a key driver is awesome hardware, like the Pixel C.”