Android Tablets Will Match One of the iPad Pro’s Killer Features
Google clearly wants its users to be able to get work done on Android tablets, even designing a keyboard specifically for the Pixel C, the first tablet manufactured by Google itself. There’s just one problem: The Pixel C’s Android software leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to productivity.
In particular, Android lacks a “split-screen” mode, in which two apps are placed side-to-side on the same screen so a user can, say, refer to a browser window while writing a document.
Members of the Pixel C development team held a question-and-answer session on Reddit to discuss the device, and promised that productivity improvements are on their way in future versions of Android.
“We’re working hard on a range of enhancements for Android in this form-factor—there are many things, like multi-window, that we’ve been spending a lot of time on,” wrote Android user interface director Glen Murphy.
“Split screen is in the works!” wrote consumer hardware director Andrew Bowers.
When Android does get a split-screen mode, it will be one of the last mobile platforms to embrace single-screen multitasking. Earlier this year Apple released its productivity-focused tablet, the 13-inch iPad Pro, and one of its banner features is the ability to use two apps at the same time. Windows tablets let you run two programs at once by dragging applications to either side of its screen, while the app automatically resizes.
Even certain other Android devices can already do split-screen multitasking. Samsung’s phones and tablets have been able to run more than one app on-screen at the same time for years, although it hasn’t been well-supported by third-party Android developers, whose apps sometimes causing glitches or crashing.
It might be a while before you’re running split-screen mode on an Android tablet. Bowers hinted that the feature is on Google’s (GOOG) roadmap for the next version of Android, codenamed Android N. The newest version of Android is traditionally released in beta in the early summer, and it can take a while—sometimes months or years—for consumer devices to get an update to Google’s latest software.
For more on Android developments, watch this Fortune video: