Android is one of the most versatile operating systems around, but something it’s always seemingly lacked – synonymous as it is with mobile devices – is proper multitasking functionality. It just doesn’t seem all that convenient on a small screen, but the reality is that there are now apps and low-key Android features that make it more palatable as a multitasking device than ever.
So here we’re going to show you the things you can do and download to multitask properly on your Android device.
Use that Recent Apps Button
Maybe this one’s aimed more for the elder Android users, with the young ones finding the benefits of that third navigation bar button besides “Back” and “Home” bleedingly obvious. But the amount of times I’ve seen less experienced Android users hitting the Home button, then manually navigating to the previous app they were just using has inspired me to take a stand.
Quite simply, if you’re flicking between a few apps on rotation during a session (say Google Docs or a note-taking app while researching something on Chrome), then teach yourself to navigate between them using the Recent button in the navigation bar. It’ll save you a ton of time in the long run over going back to the home screen each time.
A neat secret feature of the Recent button is that double-tapping it toggles between the two most recent apps you opened.
The next step is to try out the split-screen feature that has been in Android since the days of 7.0 Nougat. To enable split-screen, open the first app you want to use in split-screen, then press the Recent button in the navigation bar, tap the app’s icon above its window thumbnail, and tap “Split screen.”
That app will now be shifted to take up about a quarter of the screen at the top, and you can then either select another app from the Recent list, or press the Back button and manually pick another app for the original one to share the screen with. Once you pick another app, it will automatically take up half the screen, sharing it with the original app.
Note that split-screen works with auto-rotate, so you can also view two apps by holding your phone horizontally
Split Screen Launcher
It’s already a very well-made app but still a work-in-progress, as it’s still in early access. That means there may be even more handy multitasking features inbound!
Fluid Navigation Gestures
If you’re up for downloading a third-party app, then you can’t go too wrong with this one. Fluid Navigation Gestures makes it even quicker to navigate between apps using an overlay at the edges of your screen.
While many of the actions involve functions you can already do on your phone in other ways, there are a few extra gestures here that are particularly noteworthy. The “Previous App” and “Next App” actions do something you can’t otherwise do on Android by seamlessly switching between apps without the Recent Apps screen.
The Toggle Split-Screen gesture is also handy, again skipping past the Recent Apps screen to enable the split-screen function right away.
If you’re looking for more ways to optimize navigation gestures, read our list of the best navigation gesture apps for Android. Or if you’re a mobile gamer, these are the best iOS and Android games coming out in 2020.