This is very interesting and has the potential to be very exciting.
A company named Ixonos posted a YouTube video showing their Multi-Window for Android system.
After the break, screensnaps, some commentary, and that video.
All screensnaps taken from the 720p version of the video. Click any to enlarge.
There’s a significant difference between the multiwindowing of Ixonos and that of Rockchip.
Although both offer Zoom buttons, Ixonos also offers a Close (X) button.
Also, very significantly, Ixonos does not require a gesture to switch between “fixed” window mode and “resize” window mode. The windows are live all the time.
Instead, their windows have a resize handle in the lower right corner of the window.
As you’ll see later in the video, that seems a bit cumbersome.
With Rockchip, users can simply pinch in or out to resize. That seems to be less problematic to me but, again, it first requires a gesture (a three-finger swipe) to switch between window modes. Also, pinch-zoom for resize outside of a special windowing mode would be interpreted by an app and a commend to that app.
Two overlapping windows:
Two side-by-side windows with a grabber in the center for resizing:
Notice also that unlike Rockchip, there is no circular, movable button off to the right side of the screen for windowing. Instead, Ixonos has put that down in the bottom iconbar. I like that.
And this is slick. In Google Maps, he’s called up an info card for a town and is tapping on that link for more information.
That information appears in the browser that’s already open in the right window. Slick!
Side-by-side window resize:
Three windows at once:
Four windows overlap at once:
And this is a big difference between Ixonos and Rockchip:
Those windows are not shrunk to fit the screen.
But they can be:
All of the above becomes clear when you see the video.
Now the video:
Ixonos has a page about their Multi-Window for Android system.
I’ve also emailed them for more information.
It looks to me like this is something a tablet maker would have to license and put in the Android ROM. So, if I wanted this in either the LG G Pad 8.3 or the HP Slate 8 Pro, LG and HP would have to license it.
That’s a bit frustrating to me.
I’d like to see them offer a ROM people can buy. CyanogenMod has established that people will flash their tablet ROMs. Why wait for tablet makers to offer this? We could be waiting forever to get it.
Of course, there’s still Google itself to consider. Will they wake up to the wisdom of doing multiwindowing — at least as an option — in Android 5.0? I don’t know. But if they’re at all serious about competing against Apple in the television space, they should.
Televisions are huge these days. And being able to Chromecast multiple windows to a TV would turn it into something no television maker can ever offer.
I’m not alone in thinking that tablets are the new TV. That “Smart” TVs are dead. And that TVs should never bother to be anything more than large monitors with TV tuners and some computer-standard ports:
In the future, your TV will be a beautiful but dumb hi-res panel that will play the content it is told to by your smartphone or tablet.
That’s Anthony Rose of Zeebox, quoted in Zeebox boss says smart TV is a dumb idea.
I agree with him.
I’d like to see multiwindowing adopted in Android. The single-screen-per-app model is restrictive and counter-productive. People already know how to use tablets. Offering the option of multiwindowing would differentiate Android from iOS and further the idea of a tablet replacing a TV.
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