Quickly switching between a text conversation and Yelp as you work out what to order for delivery with your partner is a convenient yet tedious way of multitasking, especially on an Android phone. Sure, it works, but there’s a better way. Android has a built-in feature that lets you use two apps on your screen at the same time, letting you take advantage of all that screen real estate that comes standard on today’s smartphones.
So, using the same example above, you view Yelp and Messages in split-screen mode, where you’ll be able to browse menus on the top half of your screen, while sharing links in a text convo on the bottom half of your screen. It’s super convenient and easy to use, taking just a couple of taps to activate.
Keep in mind, split-screen mode may look or work differently based on which phone you use. For example, Samsung had its own implementation long before Google officially added it to Android.
Here’s where to find split-screen mode on an Android device
1. If you’ve ever forced an app to quit, you’re already a pro at getting to the right place. If you haven’t yet made the switch to Android 10’s gestures, tap the app switcher button to view all of your open apps. If you are using gestures, swipe up from the bottom of your screen and pause about halfway up.
2. Next, find one of the apps you want to use and tap on the app icon at the top of its thumbnail, followed by Split Screen.
3. That app will then slide up to the top of your screen, and the app switcher view will remain visible on the bottom half. You can either select the second app from there, by going to your home screen or the app drawer.
4. You’re not locked into using both apps taking up equal space on your display. Centered in the line that separates them is a handle that you can drag up or down to resize the apps. For example, if you’re editing a spreadsheet but need info from an email, you could shrink Gmail to show only what you need, while seeing more cells.
Not all apps support split-screen mode, and there’s no real way to figure out if an app will work without actually trying it.
Samsung phones can do even more
There are a few different ways to multitask on a Samsung device. Using the steps outlined above, you’re given the same split-screen feature and functionality. But you also get an option titled Open in pop-up view.
Pop-up view shrinks the app down to a small window that you can move around the screen and resize as needed.
If you use Samsung’s Edge Panel, a slim side window that lets you access apps and more from any screen, you can create your own split screen App Pair shortcuts that will launch two apps side-by-side on demand. For example, you can open the browser on top and your messaging app of choice on the bottom.
On your phone, go to Settings > Display > Edge screen > Edge panels to customize your choices.
Looking for more useful Android features like this one? Check out these tips and tricks. If you’re still trying to get the hang of Android 10 gestures, these animated GIFs can show you how. And, finally, here’s a preview of some of our favorite features coming to Android 11.