Last year, Google released the Play Store for select Chromebooks and announced that Android apps would be available on Chrome OS. Now, multiple Chromebooks feature Android app support, and Google has worked to improve the user experience in Android apps, as well as in Chrome OS as a whole. In recent months, we’ve seen Google work on adding split screen in tablet mode as well as inline replies in notifications.
Now, a user on Reddit (via Chrome Unboxed) has noted that parallel tasks in Android apps are available in Chrome OS 64 Beta. For some background, Android apps pause their state when not in focus. This behavior makes sense in smartphones, but not on desktop where you can run multiple Android apps at the same time.
If users run apps with real-time data or games, the apps will pause when users click away from the app on the Chromebook, leading to a poor user experience. The expected behavior of an open app for desktop users is that it will remain active and running even when the focus is shifted to another window. This is what is known as true multitasking.
The behavior of Android apps to pause their state doesn’t make sense as users can see all their open apps on a Chromebook more easily than on a smartphone. Moreover, it makes more sense for a desktop device to have support for true multitasking in apps as compared to a mobile device. The pause behavior thus adds confusion and isn’t in line with what desktop users expect.
The rectification for the problem is simple: allow apps to keep running without pausing their states when the user switches to another window. Parallel tasks on Android allow the operating system to keep all apps running and open until the user pauses the activity or exits the app. In order to enable this feature, open the Android settings page within Chrome OS and go to Developer Options. Scroll all the way down and look for a toggle to allow Android apps to keep running even if the focus is on another window.
Chrome OS 63 Stable on the Google Pixelbook doesn’t have support for parallel tasks in Android apps. On the other hand, the Acer Chromebook 15 running Chrome OS 64 Beta did have support for Parallel Apps, which was turned on by Chrome Unboxed and shown off in the video below.
Chrome Unboxed states that there is a significant difference after enabling Parallel Apps, with multiple apps being able to run side-by-side with no pauses or any lost data. The user experience, therefore, is much better, and is in-line with what desktop users expect.
There is a possibility that the stable version of Chrome OS 64 won’t incorporate this feature, but the chances of inclusion are high. If it’s found in Chrome OS 64 Stable, users will have one less reason not to use Chrome OS, as it continues to leave behind its web-focused tag and becomes an increasingly versatile OS.
Via: Chrome Unboxed