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You’re probably used to opening and using a single app on your Android phone at a time. But did you know that it’s possible to greatly increase your productivity by multitasking?
Using some Android tricks and apps, you can keep two apps open at once, switch between apps effortlessly, and even watch videos while working in another app. To accomplish this, let’s look at the many ways to multitask on Android.
1. Android’s Native Switcher Shortcut
Android 7.0 Nougat and above features a handy shortcut for instantly switching between the current and last-used apps. To use it, simply double-tap the square-shaped Recents button (the one that pulls up all active apps) on the navigation bar. Execute this shortcut once to go back to the last app you had open, then again to return to the original one when desired.
If you’re running Android 9.0 Pie or above, you won’t have the older navigation buttons at the bottom of your screen. Instead, you need to flick the pill-shaped home button to the right to switch apps. These gestures are just one of the new features of Android Pie.
Do note that while this is a native Android function, it may not be present on your phone (or may take a different form) depending on the manufacturer.
2. Split-Screen Mode
Android also has a multi-window option for running two apps side-by-side. For instance, you could have a document open in Google Docs in the lower half of the screen with a Google Search window in the other for research.
Plus, Android allows you to drag text from one app to another in the split-screen mode. You can even adjust the window’s size depending on your use. Nearly every major app supports multi-window on Android such as Netflix, Google Docs, YouTube, Twitter, and WhatsApp.
To better understand the feature, check out our guide to using split-screen mode on Android.
3. Picture-in-Picture Mode
Another clever multitasking built-in Android feature is the picture-in-picture (PiP) mode. This lets you watch videos in a draggable, floating window.
There are numerous scenarios where you’ll find PiP mode convenient. You can look up restaurants while video chatting with a friend, or you can watch a YouTube clip and browse Reddit simultaneously. The PiP view is available on a handful of video apps including YouTube, Netflix, and VLC.
However, Android’s picture-in-picture mode is not limited to streaming apps. PiP works for Google Maps navigation, Google Duo video chats, and more.
To shift to the picture-in-picture mode in an app, simply touch the home button while content is playing, and the app will automatically shrink its active content into a small window. You do not need to manually toggle any setting for it to work.
Picture-in-picture support is only available on Android 8.0 Oreo and above. If you’d like to learn more about it, here’s a brief guide to Android’s picture-in-picture feature.
4. Lynket Browser
Lynket Browser tries to fix Android’s lousy Custom Tabs functionality by forwarding the web pages to a separate app. However, the reason we mention it here is because of the app’s multitasking skills.
Lynket can load web pages in the background and add them as floating bubbles on your screen. You can either immediately attend to them and then return to what you were doing earlier, or leave them hanging around the edges of your screen for later.
The app lets you launch multiple links as floating bubbles to effortlessly multitask between a browser and other apps.
Download: Lynket Browser (Free, premium version available)
5. Split Screen Launcher
This app augments Android’s split-screen utility by adding one a key missing feature.
With Split Screen Launcher, you can create shortcuts for split-screen combinations you use frequently. Say you regularly have YouTube and Twitter in the multi-window mode. You can turn this into a homescreen shortcut to open split-screen mode with these two apps in a snap.
Split Screen Launcher has a straightforward interface. To configure a new shortcut, tap the Create Shortcut button on the app, specify the top and bottom apps, and hit Save. In the prompt, hold down and drag to place the new shortcut on your home screen.
At the time of writing, Split Screen Launcher is still in early access. Hence, it might occasionally have stability problems.
Download: Split Screen Launcher (Free)
Taskbar is the ultimate multitasking tool for Android phones. It essentially pins a desktop-like taskbar at the bottom of your phone’s screen. At the far left of the bar, you’ll find a sort of start menu to access all installed apps. On the right, the app keeps your most recently used apps.
Since it’s accessible everywhere, you can easily jump between apps and skip the Recents navigation button. In addition, Taskbar can hold as many widgets as you’d like.
To avoid obstructing your view when you’re not using it, Taskbar automatically hides under an arrow button. It also doesn’t have to stay at the bottom; you can reposition it to the left or right edges and change its orientation.
On Android 7.0 and above, Taskbar can even launch apps in freeform windows for truly turning your phone into a mobile workstation. However, this function is only possible through an ADB shell command. Once you have set up ADB on your computer, head over to Taskbar’s Freeform tab and follow the on-screen instructions.
Download: Taskbar (Free)
7. Edge Screen
Edge Screen supercharges your phone’s edges by adding a series of retractable panels. These let you quickly access your favorite apps, contacts, settings, navigation shortcuts, and much more.
You can summon Edge Screen by pulling on the sidebar and keep swiping to cycle through panels. Plus, Edge Screen houses a handful of mini apps including a music playback control, calculator, calendar, voice recorder, and file explorer.
This functionality comes in handy in lots of situations. Perhaps you’re chatting with a friend and want to perform a calculation for last night’s dinner bill. You can just pull out Edge Screen, swipe till you reach the mini calculator app, find out the result, and return to the chat—all in a matter of seconds.
Download: Edge Screen (Free, premium version available)
8. Floating Bar V40
You can think of this app as a less obtrusive alternative of Edge Screen, as the concept is identical. Floating Bar V40 allows you to access your apps, contacts, quick actions, and other items without leaving your current activity.
But instead of taking over half of your screen, Floating Bar V40 lives in a compact, retractable, floating bar. Like Edge Screen, it’s swipeable and can hold several widgets as well as collections. You can even configure a tab for generating a random die roll.
Download: Floating Bar V40 (Free, premium version available)
Improve Your Android Phone Experience
These apps will help you comfortably multitask on your Android phone in a variety of ways. Now even when you’re on the move, you can get work done more efficiently, switch apps in a moment, and run apps side-by-side.
If you want to keep supercharging Android, don’t stop here. We’ve rounded up some missing features that third-party apps add into Android.