Google built a split-screen multitasking feature into Android 6.0 Marshmallow (2015), but it was experimental. The feature was officially enabled by default the following year with 7.0 Nougat. Later came 9.0 Pie, which changed how app switching worked and people were upset because the new gesture was slower and less convenient.
The history lesson is over and there’s good news – launching split-screen may become more convenient on Android 12. 9to5Google has seen evidence that Google is working an a feature called App Pairs.
This will allow you to have single icons that launch two app of your choosing and dividing the screen between them. Below are two images – the left one shows the current process of splitting the screen, the right one is a mock-up of what App Pairs may look like.
Activating split screen • Mock-up of App Pairs
Similar features are already available on many custom UIs used by phone makers, but it’s still nice to have this in the Android core. Plus, as the history lesson above shows, Google doesn’t exactly move fast when it comes to Android’s interface and often adds features years after custom UIs brought them to users.
Android 12 will bring changes to how wireless networking works too. For example, it will add an easy way to share Wi-Fi passwords using QR codes. XDA Developers has also discovered a feature dubbed Restricted Networking Mode – basically, a switch that disables Internet access for user-installed apps.
With this on, only system services and apps signed by the phone maker will remain connected. This will be a helpful tool to limit battery and data plan usage by apps working in the background.
The Android 12 Developer Preview is expected in mid-February. There’s no guarantee that it will bring any of these features as they are still in active development.