The Android N Developer preview includes support for split-screen mode, allowing you to run two apps in side-by-side windows. But eventually you may be able to run multiple apps in resizeable windows… much the way you can on a Windows, OS X, or Ubuntu computer.
Google calls this mode “freeform,” and makes a slight mention of it in the Android N multi-window documentation. But as Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica notes, it doesn’t look like freeform mode is enabled in the first developer preview.
Amadeo noticed several references to freeform support in the Android N framework-res.apk file, but he hasn’t found a way to switch the value from “false” to “true” yet.
It certainly sounds like Google plans to implement something similar to what Jide has done with Remix OS: a multi-window mode that lets you launch apps in resizable windows that can be moved anywhere on the screen.
While this won’t be all that useful on smartphones, it could come in handy on tablets, notebooks, or even desktop computers with larger displays… and it could make Android function more like a desktop operating system.
What does that mean for the operating system Google already positions as a desktop OS? Chrome OS will probably stick around for a while… but the lines between Chrome OS and Android have been blurring in recent years. There are tools in Chrome OS that allow the operating system to run some Android apps, and if/when Google adds support for extensions to the Chrome browser for Android, there won’t actually be much difference between the capabilities of an Android tablet and a Chromebook.