Google to improve split-screen apps on mobile, but likely not before Android 14

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May 19, 2023

Google will finally be updating the App Pairs feature for the native version of Android 14, giving users a way to save certain split-screen apps on their phone.

For those who need a refresher, App Pair is a multitasking tool allowing Android owners to open two apps, place them side-by-side, and interact with them at the same time. The annoying thing was you couldn’t save them on Pixel hardware, so you had to redo the pairing every time you closed them. That is, until this latest leak, which was discovered by freelance tech journalist Mishaal Rahman who shared his findings on Twitter

He came across a “launcher flag” digging through the files of the second Android 14 beta “that, when enabled, surfaces” a new ‘Save app pair’ option “in the context menu of split-screened apps”. Rahman states the selection doesn’t work at the moment, but he does expect it to work as intended later down the line. There’s no indication in his findings whether or not the feature will be available with the launch of Android 14, however.

Now you may be asking: “doesn’t this already exist on Android?” Yes, it does. The problem was split-screen saving was never available on the base version of Android OS nor on Pixel. It’s something usually added by third parties to their respective tech. Samsung, for example, gave users the ability to save app pairings from the get-go when it introduced its own rendition of App Pairs to Galaxy phones back in 2017. Pixel devices, for whatever reason, have lagged behind.  

Improved multi-tasking

Staying on this thread of Google playing catch up, industry leaker Nail Sadykov discovered another new multitasking feature in the latest Android 14 beta. This time, the operating system will allow you to “use system navigation” while dragging and dropping items. So, you’ll be able to grab a photo from one app, “open another, [then] drop it there” without much hassle. It also works with text. Highlighting a string of words lets you move them to somewhere else, effectively eliminating the need for copying and pasting.

Just like Rahman’s findings, the improved drag and drop tool does exist on other smartphones from iOS to Oppo hardware. It’s just that Google has been a little slow on the uptake. Hopefully, these quality-of-life updates will appear on the Pixel 8. While they’re not the most game-changing additions, the small stuff does add up, and it can turn an okay device into something special. 

Speaking of the Pixel 8, a recent leak for the Pro model reveals it may be getting a thermometer of all things. It’ll be next to the camera lenses on the rear. We’re not sure what Google intends to do by adding a thermometer to Pixel, which seems a pretty random inclusion.

Once you’re done catching up on our coverage of Google’s next flagship, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best Pixel handsets for 2023 if you’re looking to upgrade.