Most Android smartphones, even the affordable ones, now come with large displays. Apps now are also designed to take advantage of such screen estate, with support for taller aspect ratios.
It only makes sense to use split-screen mode on bigger screens for more efficient multitasking. On Android, thousands of apps (even games) can be natively run on split-screen without introducing any sort of weird UI scaling issues that occurred in the early days.
With Android 11, the process to toggle split-screen multitasking has changed quite a bit due to gestures being the primary navigation method. Every Android OEM has also moved on from the traditional three-button and two-button navigation methods to implement system-wide gestures. While switching between apps is now more intuitive — entering split-screen on Android is a bit more annoying.
To run two apps simultaneously on Android 7 Nougat, all you had to do is open up the Recents menu, then drag and drop the apps you wish to use in split-screen mode. Ever since the release of Android 9 Pie, users have to swipe to close apps, which is why it’s more cumbersome to go split-screen even on the latest iteration of Android.
If you have a smaller phone, you might not find split-screen mode helping your multitasking at all. Having said that, it’s quite useful if you want to text someone while watching a video. On a big display, Android’s split-screen provides a significantly better multitasking experience.
It doesn’t really matter if your phone is running Android 11 or any of the previous two versions; you can follow this guide to enable split-screen mode and run two apps at the same time.
Guide to enable split-screen on Android 11
It takes a few steps to enable split-screen on Android 11. Regardless of which device you are using, the steps below apply across almost all third-party Android skins.
- First, launch the app you want to use in split-screen mode. If you have recently used the app, it isn’t necessary to launch it.
- Next, enter the Recents menu by swiping up from the home bar at the bottom when using gestures.
If you are using 2-button navigation, swipe up from the pill button.
When using 3-button navigation, simply tap the square button in the row.
- In the Recents menu, scroll to the app you want to have at the upper portion of the screen in split-screen mode.
- Tap and hold the app icon on top of the app card. If the context menu doesn’t show up on your device, tap the three-dot action icon within the Recents menu.
- Finally, tap the Split screen option in the context menu to enter the split-screen mode.
- You can now launch the second app from the home screen or the app drawer. It should appear in the lower portion of the screen.
If you are using your phone in landscape mode, the two apps will cover the left and right halves of the screen.
Note that you can resize the portions when using two apps in split-screen mode. However, it works only if your phone is in portrait. In case you see a blank screen when opening an app in split-screen mode, it probably isn’t supported.
Exit the split-screen view
To exit the split-screen view, simply drag the black bar between two portions of the screen to the top or bottom.
Dragging the bar to the top will make the app at the bottom open up in full-screen, whereas dragging it to the bottom will make the top app show up in full-screen.
Resizing apps in split-screen mode
Suppose you are watching a YouTube video while using Chrome to browse the web in split-screen mode. Assuming the video uses a conventional aspect ratio, you probably don’t need the entire top half of the screen to watch it. Instead, you can resize the YouTube app in split-screen to give Chrome more of the screen real-estate, so that it can show you additional web content.
If you have two apps open in split-screen mode, you can resize them by tapping and holding the black bar in the middle, then moving it up or down to increase the size of one of the apps on the screen.
On some custom OEM Android skins, you can’t resize split-screen apps in landscape mode. However, resizing apps in portrait works across Android 9 Pie, Android 10, and Android 11 version.