That was fast! I only just received Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 on Thursday and found a small software update waiting on Friday morning. My first look video of this 5.5-inch smartphone showed some of nice software features but one that I was looking forward to was missing. No longer: Now I can run two applications simultaneously on the large screen, which I find can be very useful.
When I first decided to order the international version of this phone from the U.K. and have it shipped to me in the U.S., I had said that this feature was intriguing, and part of the reason why I bought the device. I saw the multi-window support in a video demonstration of the Korean Galaxy Note 2; Samsung first launched the device in its home country. Unfortunately, after getting my phone, I noticed the build version was older than the Korean model. No longer. This morning’s update added it and it’s pretty slick, provided you have a large enough screen to take advantage of.
Now, when I press and hold the back button of the Galaxy Note 2, a little dock-like program launcher appears. I can drag any of the app shortcuts from the dock and the program will open in a half-screen window, either above or below the currently running app. A bar between the two running apps can be dragged to resize an app as well.
And although I originally thought only specific Samsung apps would be eligible for multi-window use, I was wrong. I’ve installed several third-party apps and they appear in the dock as well. So I can browse the web in the top half of the screen while my Twitter client shows tweets in the bottom, for example.
This feature first appeared on Samsung’s larger Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, and it probably makes more sense there: The larger the screen the easier it is to work with two apps at the same time. But here’s where the Galaxy Note 2′s 5.5-inch display becomes an enabling tool, not a detriment. Yes, it’s a big phone — or a small tablet with voice capabilities, if you prefer — but sometimes bigger is better.