Android N Freeform Multi-Window Not Coming to Nexus Line

Earlier this year, Google made the decision to launch the Developer Preview of Android N a little earlier than most people were expecting them to, and since then we've seen a number of revisions to the Preview launch. While the final release is still slated for some time this Summer, it's unlikely that most people will see the new update hit their devices. Nexus users are often the most excited for a new release of Android, and being the first in line for all the best new features forms much of the decision behind such a purchase. For Nexus 6 and above owners however, the looming launch of Android N might not be all what it's worked up to be.

One of the key features of Android N is to be multi-window, the ability to have two running apps onscreen at any one given time, which is something that a lot of people have been saying "about time" to. On top of this however, there's a freefrom window mode in Android N as well, which should make Android feel a lot more like Windows or Chrome OS, but it's not guaranteed to be a default final feature of Android N. In a recent Android Developers video highlighting multi-window in Android N, Ian Lake goes through some quick tips on how best to make use of the space on a smartphone or tablet, which seems fairly straightforward. In the comments to the accompanying Google+ post however, he dropped something of a bombshell, saying that "keep in mind that no Nexus device is going to have freeform multi-window enabled for N". For the Nexus 5X or even the larger Nexus 6P, this isn't too much of a big deal, but he later confirmed that the Pixel C wouldn't get it, either.

This will be a disappointing reveal to those that were looking forward to making their Pixel C feel more like a laptop-cum-tablet hybrid. Of course, this being Android there's nothing to say that users won't find an ingenious way of turning it on, just as they have done in the Android N Developer Previews, but it would have been good to see this as a default feature of Android N at least. Lake went on to say that manufacturers will be given the opportunity to turn freeform on or off, but we're not sure if this applies to existing hardware or only new devices. Regardless, Pixel C users in particular will no doubt be a little upset at the news.

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Tom Dawson

Former Editor-in-Chief
For years now I've had a heavy interest in technology, growing up with 8-bit computers and gaming consoles has fed into an addiction to everything that beeps. Android saved me from the boredom of iOS years ago and I love watching the platform grow. As an avid reader and writer nothing pleases me more than to write about the exciting world of Android, Google and mobile technology as a whole.