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Android Cellphones GUI Handhelds Upgrades

An Early Look At Android M's Multi-Window Mode For Tablets 95

Ars Technica has a look at the experimental multi-window mode in the just-announced Android M. It's not a headlining feature yet: "buggy, busted, and buried, but intriguing nonetheless" is how Ars describes it. Android Police is similarly faint in its praise. All that might be true, but to many users even a partly working multi-window mode would be welcome, especially one blessed by Google. (Some Samsung users have had multi-window support for a while, but not built into the OS proper, and multi-window capabilities can be found via app, too.)
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An Early Look At Android M's Multi-Window Mode For Tablets

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  • So now after a few years of updates you have have MULTIPLE apps slowing your phone or tablet to a crawl!
    • Re:So now... (Score:5, Informative)

      by BronsCon ( 927697 ) <social@bronstrup.com> on Sunday May 31, 2015 @07:17PM (#49811539) Journal
      Because Android allows apps to run in the background (and I mean actually run, not register to be woken up by certain events as on iOS), we have that already. This will just let you interact with them all at once.
      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Because Android allows apps to run in the background (and I mean actually run, not register to be woken up by certain events as on iOS), we have that already. This will just let you interact with them all at once.

        So finally I will have multiple apps in the foreground bringing my tablet to a crawl.

        Jokes aside, have Google announced wich devices will get this, I'm wondering if my Nexus 7 and 4 will receive the official update.

        • As far as I'm aware, they haven't, but it does look like it's a tablet-only feature, so your Nexus 4 is out, along with my Nexus 6. If I'm not mistaken, there are a couple different Nexus 7's, one of which is no longer supported. If you have the newer one, I'd imagine you're covered. I just hope I don't have to wait long for the hack to enable it on phones, given the 5.9" screen on my Nexus.
      • and I mean actually run, not register to be woken up by certain events as on iOS

        Thats why iPhone outlasts Android phones, for a given size.

        • That hasn't been my experience. I charge my Nexus 6 every other day while my wife's iPhone 6 Plus needs juice nightly, sometimes mid day. My wife's iPhone 4 and 5 both had similar battery life to her 6 Plus, maybe marginally better, while my HTC One X and One (7) and LG G3 all had similar battery life to my Nexus 6. I know I'm just one person, but that's a sample size of 7; not definitive, but certainly convincing.
          • In both specs and independent usage tests the iPhone 6 Plus outlasts the battery of the Nexus 6.

            http://www.trustedreviews.com/... [trustedreviews.com]

            • That's wonderful. I don't care about lb tests or specs written on paper when my actual real-life experience says the opposite. All the manufacturer specs and controlled conditions testing in the world is not going to convince me that my wife's phone lasts longer than mine when it regularly dies before she charges it at night while mine routinely lasts 2 days. Likewise, I'm sure my anecdote won't convince you of anything, either; that's not why I was sharing it.
              • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

                by BasilBrush ( 643681 )

                In other words "la la la. I'm not listening."

                • Oh, I'm listening, I'm just hearing a bunch of crap that doesn't agree with reality. You, on the other hand, seem to not be listening: even if the specs say the iPhone 6 Plus will last a week on a single charge ant the Nexus 6 will only last 5 minutes, that has no bearing on reality. The reality is that my phone, a Nexus 6, routinely lasts more than twie as long as my wife's phone, an iPhone 6 Plus. Specs and lab tests be damned.
                  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Monday June 01, 2015 @03:00AM (#49813121) Journal

                    Seriously dude, your real world experiences are WRONG. Get your facts from the internet, not real life.

                    Joking aside, give up. The guy you're trying to argue with is utterly impervious to logic, facts or reason. I've tried arguing with him and he's utterly impenetrable.

                    • Yes, and entertaining. Just realize that you're not going to win against him and don't get worked up over it. By then, you've already won.
                    • It's not surprising you don't understand anecdotes are not data.

                    • No indeed you can't win with anecdotes of observances against specs and independent tests.

                      You're no better than a global warming denier who's seen snow in march.

                    • Not quitel There is a lot more toglobal warming than whether or not it smows in March, but, tyere is nothing more to whether my phone or ky wife's phone lasts longer than whether my phone or mynwife's phone lasts longer. Mine, a Nexus 6, lasts longer than hers, an iPhone 6 Plus. Period. Therefore, it is correct for me to say that, in my experience, the Nexus 6 lasts longer than the iPhone 6 Plus. At no point did I claim that my observations were indicative of all Nexus 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices; in fact,
                    • Also, damn, this is why I don't post from my phone (I've turned off autocorrect or it might have been worse).
                    • by unrtst ( 777550 )

                      I'm surprised you haven't put two and two together. All your phones last longer than all your wifes phones. That's one of the two major trends your case shows, the other being that, coincidentally, all your phones were Android devices and hers were iphones. I'd be willing to wager real money that usage patterns are quite different (ie. she probably uses her phone more, or some feature of it that draws more battery power - maybe just checking it more often (screen use); maybe she keeps gps/wifi/bluetooth all

                    • My phone: all radios on. Her phone: all radios on. Aside from that, I discuss usage patterns elsewhere in the thread; mine certainly sees more use than hers. Unfortunately, since there is no possible way for me to run an SMTP server or an HTTP server with PHP support on an iPhone, swapping phones with her to test the impact of usage patterns is not a viable option; but the SMTP and HTTP servers I run on my phone for on-the-go development and testing are certainly battery hogs, I can't imagine the iPhone wou
                    • Exactly. An anecdote that's not even of a proper side by side test, of two phones doing the same thing is completely useless.

                    • And yet my phone, under higher usage than hers, lasts longer. If it were the other way around I'd see your point.
                    • The scientific method is obviously alien to you.

                    • So you're positing that putting a higher load on her phone and a lower load on mine would result in her phone outlasting mine? See, I understand the scientific method just fine, but I also have some basic common sense, which seems to be lost on you.
                    • No indeed you can't win with anecdotes of observances against specs and independent tests.

                      You're no better than a global warming denier who's seen snow in march.

                      Because no tech company has EVER fudged on benchmarks!

                    • No, I'm positing that your wife is doing lots of video calls to her lover that you don't know about.

                      And that as well as being a cuckold, you don't understand the scientific method.

                    • First of all, cucklod is a verb, the noun form is cuck. Second, I'm through being civil with you, go fuck yourself.
                    • Wrong. Read some Shakespeare, moron.

                    • Huh, then i've never actually heard anyone use it correctly. Thank you for the correction and go fuck yourself.
                    • I'm glad you are beginning to see you don't know everything. Next stop, the scientific method...

                    • Right after you get done fucking yourself.
                • In other words "la la la. I'm not listening."

                  ...to random statements on the Internet that conflict with observed reality.

                  That seems sensible to me.

              • by Goaway ( 82658 )

                You realise battery life depends extremely heavily on installed apps, and how often they query the network in the background?

                • Yes, but not nearly as heavily as screen-on time on a 6" class device. That said, I've got bittorrent sync running on my phone, on top of having it configured to update apps, mail, and calendars over any network, and the fact that I use the phone as a dash cam (bittorrent sync is transferring anywhere from 1 to 10GB of video per day from this activity alone). My phone sees considerably more use than hers, which gets used more as a dumbphone than anything else.
            • In both specs and independent usage tests the iPhone 6 Plus outlasts the battery of the Nexus 6.

              http://www.trustedreviews.com/... [trustedreviews.com]

              This all reminds me of the fuel consumption figures published by car manufacturers, which have no connection to real world performance.

      • So explain which use case does iOS not allow with its multitasking abilities?

        • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

          Defensive much? He didn't say there were any use cases. He did, however, accurately describe how iOS allows apps to gain background processing time.

          • He also said something that was patently untrue....

            Hint: How would music, gps, VOiP, etc. apps work if they weren't constantly running in the background?

            • Music apps pass the stream off to iOS to keep playing while they are suspended. iOS briefly wakes the app near the end of the stream in order to allow it to pass a new stream. iOS will wake an app using the GPS with location updates in order to allow the app to make notifications as required. VOIP and messaging apps are woken up when a message or call comes in. How all of this works is very well documented [apple.com]. Are you saying that what's described in Apple's own documentation is patently untrue?
              • There are two types of location aware apps for iOS. One type just asks the OS to notify it when the location changes. The other is constantly running and tracking location. For instance, something like Nike+ GPS is constantly running and tracking your location. You can actually tell which is which by the icon on the status bar - it will be either solid or outlined.

                As far as sound, how could the stream just be "passed off to the OS" in the case of something like the OverCast that is constantly processing the

                • There are two types of location aware apps for iOS.

                  According to Apple's documentation (linked from my post), there are three.

                  Tracking the User’s Location

                  There are several ways to track the user’s location in the background, most of which do not actually require your app to run continuously in the background:

                  - The significant-change location service (Recommended)
                  - Foreground-only location services
                  - Background location services

                  The significant-change location service is highly recommended for apps that do not need high-precision location data. With this service, location updates are generated only when the user’s location changes significantly; thus, it is ideal for social apps or apps that provide the user with noncritical, location-relevant information. If the app is suspended when an update occurs, the system wakes it up in the background to handle the update. If the app starts this service and is then terminated, the system relaunches the app automatically when a new location becomes available. This service is available in iOS 4 and later, and it is available only on devices that contain a cellular radio.

                  The foreground-only and background location services both use the standard location Core Location service to retrieve location data. The only difference is that the foreground-only location services stop delivering updates if the app is ever suspended, which is likely to happen if the app does not support other background services or tasks. Foreground-only location services are intended for apps that only need location data while they are in the foreground.

                  You enable location support from the Background modes section of the Capabilities tab in your Xcode project. (You can also enable this support by including the UIBackgroundModes key with the location value in your app’s Info.plist file.) Enabling this mode does not prevent the system from suspending the app, but it does tell the system that it should wake up the app whenever there is new location data to deliver. Thus, this key effectively lets the app run in the background to process location updates whenever they occur.

                  Important: You are encouraged to use the standard services sparingly or use the significant location change service instead. Location services require the active use of an iOS device’s onboard radio hardware. Running this hardware continuously can consume a significant amount of power. If your app does not need to provide precise and continuous location information to the user, it is best to minimize the use of location services.

                  For information about how to use each of the different location services in your app, see Location and Maps Programming Guide.

                  You can read through that document yourself to answer the rest of your questions.

                  Consumers. Trusting marketingspeak and assuming they know how things actually work since the dawn of time.

        • Servers. Yes, I run a development server on my Android phone.
  • Obviously - given the amount of stuffing around and warnings you apparently get when enabling it - this feature is not meant to be used yet, but as far as it goes what is different to say Samsung's implementation? I've seen the Samsung one and it seems to work fine (in the limited cases I used it) so is there some differentiating feature here? Like APIs for apps to share resources or something? Aside from the vendor-specific aspect of Samsung's one of course.

    Having also used multi-windowing on an x86 Surfac

    • I'd guess it being built into the OS might make more app developers test against it for those apps which don't appear to work properly. That having a standard implantation since few other manufacturers are going to use Samsung's version.
    • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

      I don't know about more recent implementations, but I remember that Samsung originally only allowed you to run some of their stock apps in multiple windows. When I was at the Verizon store, I almost bought a Note 2 for its multi-windowing capability until I noticed in some fine print near the display that it only worked with some stock apps... so I ditched that idea and went with a device better suited for phone use.

    • See, when you say "in the limited cases I used it" did you not find it irritating as hell and disable it like I did?

      As for productivity... it's a tablet OS, it's consumptive, not productive. It's (normally) missing a keyboard so you can actually do some entry without covering the thing you're entering into or reading from, (always missing) a mouse so you can actually copy and paste with some accuracy and speed, and (always missing) a second discreet screen so the OS can't misjudge another futile attempt to

      • Discrete* damnit.

      • You can use bluetooth mice and keyboards on Android.

        • You can use bluetooth mice and keyboards on Android.

          Thereby negating the only advantage of a tablet, namely that you can "surf the interweb" one handed.

          So I've heard.

      • See, when you say "in the limited cases I used it" did you not find it irritating as hell and disable it like I did?

        I only really used it for dropping note, document or gallery apps over emails to copy things out of.

        As for productivity... it's a tablet OS, it's consumptive, not productive. It's (normally) missing a keyboard so you can actually do some entry without covering the thing you're entering into or reading from, (always missing) a mouse so you can actually copy and paste with some accuracy and speed, and (always missing) a second discreet screen so the OS can't misjudge another futile attempt to change the sub-page for an attempt to change apps entirely.

        Well I guess they don't need the feature then since the status quo is what it is and is never to be changed. There are hundreds of choices for keyboard covers for tablets and actually you can quite happily plug a USB mouse into an Android tablet and it will work. Not to mention multiple windows and productivity on computers came along decades before multiple screens became even moderately common.

        The Surface is a very different device

        Yes, all I sa

      • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples.gmail@com> on Sunday May 31, 2015 @06:21PM (#49811281) Homepage Journal

        As for productivity... it's a tablet OS, it's consumptive, not productive.

        The artificial distinction drawn between "consumptive" and "productive" user interfaces on a device that can theoretically support both is the problem. It acts as a barrier to participatory culture [wikipedia.org], as a lot of people don't have $400 to splurge on a "productive" device when they get the itch to do something "productive".

        It's (normally) missing a keyboard

        For someone who already bought a tablet computer or received one as a gift, a $50 Bluetooth keyboard is still less expensive than a $400 "productive computer".

        (always missing) a mouse so you can actually copy and paste with some accuracy and speed

        True, the text selection mechanism on Android through level L leaves something to be desired. But that's an argument for improving the text selection mechanism, not for continuing "consumptive" policies.

  • Another dysfunctional window manager. On my tablet there are already multiple apps running.

    Is it that hard to write a SMALL window manager that works? Looks like everyone writes one before they write a web browser.

    • Re:Oh good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Sunday May 31, 2015 @06:10PM (#49811229)

      oh the irony, Microsoft and Ubuntu and GNOME-tards making sucky UI to turn PC into a tablet like thing, while many tablet users are sick of the tablet UI and want the tried and proven simple window manager. I've noticed a trend in any software with UI, high IQ morons taking that which has been refined, and making such things obtuse, disruptive to workflow, and changing for change alone's sake.

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        I've noticed a trend in any software with UI, high IQ morons taking that which has been refined, and making such things obtuse, disruptive to workflow, and changing for change alone's sake.

        I doubt any of these 'you will do things my way because I know what's best and it's not what you think is best' bozos really have high IQs. Dunning-Kruger effect seems far more likely.

      • high IQ morons taking that which has been refined, and making such things obtuse, disruptive to workflow, and changing for change alone's sake. Why do you think they have a high IQ?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I owned an Android tablet for several years. Recently, I purchased a 10 inch Windows tablet. After using both, I discovered that what I want in a tablet is a Windows desktop. The interface isn't that bad after setting the "Single-click to open an item" option. If I need a keyboard for serious typing, I just slide the tablet into its hardware keyboard. I can use all of my favorite Windows programs and I don't have to settle for the always changing, poorly done, advertisement displaying, spyware crap that inf

      • Actually it looks like they are just trying to converge and end this whole "consumption" / "production" device nonsense.

  • The geniuses at Microsoft carefully followed the fashion to ensure that "Apps" are only single windowed, just like the so successful i*s. And now some ar*hole at Google is making them put it all back again. It is hard to be a non-thinking follower.

    • The geniuses at Microsoft carefully followed the fashion to ensure that "Apps" are only single windowed

      How so? Windows 8's Windows Runtime environment introduced the "Snap an App" feature [dummies.com], which allows a 3:1 split of the horizontal space. Press Win+Period, and one Windows Runtime app fills 1/4 of the screen's width, roughly as wide as a cell phone's display, and the other 3/4 shows either the desktop or another Windows Runtime app. Windows 8.1 allowed changing the ratio, reminiscent of the tiling window manager that shipped with Windows 1.

      Once you understand Snap an App, you'll realize that the most serious

  • by dohzer ( 867770 )

    This is a porn-driven OS enhancement, right?

    • This is a porn-driven OS enhancement, right?

      Who needs multiple windows to look at porn? Full screen single app viewing is precisely what, um, my friends use for looking at porn.

  • I didn't RTFA (hey, this is Slashdot) but I could see where recent tablet iterations have such high DPI that it might be most useful for multi-window mode to split the screen and scale the app windows to fit more than one app at a time on the screen.

    It seems like a lot of apps have a kind of defined layout and not much if any layout intelligence built into them, so changing their window size to less than screen size would seem to require many apps to be rewritten to support other windows sizes than full scr

  • There was command line user interface, then (multiple) windows user interface, then single screen user interface (android/IOS/windows phone), now going back to multiple windows user interface ..... next would be going back to command line interface. Cool.
  • We're almost full circle back to laptops running windows... :-/

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