Samsung Ponders Improving Cluttered Android Multi-Window Mode

Samsung is looking to improve on its somewhat cluttered multi-window app interface with revamped icon-based expandable widgets, newly discovered intellectual property documentation reviewed by Android Headlines suggests. Both the description and associated images for the new interface elements are really very clear-cut, showing interactions with diverse gestures that cause a different view of apps used. Based on how the acti on -- displayed as swipes of varying lengths and directions -- is performed on a given icon an app might show as a temporary widget with extra information or as a pop-out widget. Depending on the size of that element, different information is shown and different interactions become available. The same design elements extend beyond apps themselves to include a variety of notifications and alerts as well.

Combining widget magic with a pop-out view

In nearly every instance of Samsung's new patented UI, the methods for accessing information or apps and the interactions appear to be a natural progression of that used on its current flagships. In particular, the interactions and interface seem to be one giant update to the company's 'pop-out' and 'multi-window' modes. Both of those are effectively the same mode. Users can drag an app from the edge panel or turn on a setting to initiate the feature from the recent apps menu -- or with a diagonal swipe from the top corner while in an app itself. That moves the app to its own miniature window, overlayed on top of whatever apps are open. Multiple windows can be open all at once and those can be minimized behind a miniature icon-drawer at the top of the screen when not in use. The feature can also be used in conjunction with the split-screen view built into Android, making it useful despite the clutter.

The new patent appears to make the process of using those tools much more similar to customing a home screen with a third-party launcher using a strange combination of widgets, icons, and current pop-out elements. The icons for the apps can be resized, pinned to the screen in a given spot, organized alongside other pop-out-style widgets, apps, folders, and more. Users can use one swipe gesture to temporarily get a more full view of the app and its current contents while a different gesture will expand the app more permanently. For example, the weather icon might show a thumbnail of the current weather conditions and a slight expansion of that would show a bit more information. Sliding it out to a full widget would, in turn, provide a five-day forecast. A downsized YouTube or other media window, to the contrary, would hide the UI initially and at its smallest show only an icon for the media being played.

Probably not on the Galaxy S10

None of the changes seen in the latest Samsung patents will necessarily make their way to end users but there is a good chance that will happen with a future update. That's unlikely to happen with its next flagships in the Samsung Galaxy S10 series though since that handset is expected to introduce the new One UI software. A least one video of that has already provided substantial detail about that interface. The focus of One UI appears to be placed on pulling back complexity rather than expanding on it. The overlay might eventually form the basis on top of which the new multi-window mode is released but it is somewhat counter to the concepts of minimalism displayed throughout the present version of One UI.

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About the Author
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Daniel Golightly

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]
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