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Google is Adding Split-Screen Support for Android Apps on Chromebook

Posted February 20, 2018 | Android | Chrome OS | Chromebook | Mobile | Windows

Chrome OS has long supported a Windows-like split-screen mode for web apps. But now the feature is coming to Android apps, too.

Today, you can easily display two web app windows side-by-side in Chrome OS: Just drag one window to the left or right side of the screen to pin it there. And then drag another to the other side of the screen. It works much like it does in Windows 8.x or 10. (With a mouse. I’m not aware of keyboard shortcuts for this, or advanced features like Snap Assist.)

But Chrome OS is evolving into a platform that will be more suitable for tablets and 2-in-1s like the Google Pixelbook. Part of that evolution involves bringing Android apps and the Google Play Store to Chrome, of course, and improving the platform’s support for those apps. But Chrome OS is also being adapted to work more seamlessly on these new form factors. It supports touch, of course, and even pen. But it also supports a new tablet mode that can be enabled automatically when a Chrome OS device is being used as a tablet. (Such as when you switch a 2-in-1 into a tablet usage mode.)

Split-screen web app windows work in Chrome OS today regardless of the mode. But when you put Chrome OS into tablet mode, an additional multitasking button appears next to the status tray, providing the user with a way to switch more easily between windows.

The issue with split-screen, to date, is that it only works with web app windows. But its coming to Android apps, too. And if your Chrome device is running on the developer-oriented Dev channel, you can test this functionality today. Plus enable the Split view in Tablet mode flag at chrome://flags/#enable-tablet-splitview.

Note that this doesn’t appear to work on traditional laptop-style Chromebooks, which is a shame. Obviously, the ability to run two apps—web apps, Android apps, or a combination of the two) side-by-side is a basic and very useful feature. And that’s true regardless of what type of Chromebook you’re using. I bet this changes over time, and we still have a few Chrome versions to go before this feature is even added for mainstream use.


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