The GDR3 update of Windows Phone has finally arrived and with that Microsoft has finally allowed OEMs to release Windows Phone devices with quad-core system-on-chips and 1080p displays.
But other than a third column of live tiles on the homescreen the operating system doesn’t seem to offer that much more for owners of wp phablets (there are two such phablets currently, the Lumia 1320 and the Lumia 1520, both sporting 6-inch displays). Anyone who’s ever used a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 knows that going large should be accompanied by new modes of interaction and new user interface functionalities. Some might say the Note 3 benefits because it has a stylus (digitizer to be more accurate) but I don’t find that one hardward differentiation significant. There are software differentiations that are far more important and have great user appeal.
One of my favorite ones is the ability to have more than one app open at a time. Samsung calls it “Multi Window mode” and it is a multitasker’s dream-come-true. I have to admit feeling a bit jealous of GN3 users and absolutely had to do something about it.
Hence our own “Multi Window” app came to fruition (As far as I know the only one of this kind on the Windows Phone platform).
When you first launch Multi Window you see a list of available apps. Those are apps-within-the-app (They are all available out-of-the-box, no in-app purchasing is required).
Tapping on one of the apps opens it in full screen mode. Good old single-tasking. With a difference: a plus button appears on the application bar.
Tapping the plus button shrinks the open app to the top half of the screen and the bottom half now displays the app list:
Now the user can select another app (or indeed the same app as is particularly useful in the web browser case):
Notice the separator bar that appears between the two open apps. It has two buttons and a two-directional arrow. The left button closes the top app, the right button closes the bottom app. Dragging the arrow symbol upwards/downwards allows you to scale the two apps. Perhaps you want the internet explorer to use more screen space than the clock/calendar. It is up to you.
Current work – Future directions
We constantly update Multi Window because we love it. New functionality and new apps are added at a pace that is surprising for a small startup (yeah we don’t have Sammy’s resources). We are totally dedicated and mark my words: this will one day be the must-have WP app.