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It is known that Android N will bring support for split-screen multitasking and that the windows can be resized, but apparently, Google wants to take things further, as, according to a hidden code of the operating system is referring to an “experimental freeform windows” mode. This would allow displays to be displayed in floating windows that can be resized, but currently, this mode isn’t activated in the dev preview. Luckily, a user named Zhuowei Zhang found a way to access the freeform window mode and he gave instructions on how to do that.

Android is slowly turning into a desktop operating system. It runs on smartphones, on tablets and soon, its applications will float around inside windows. When the mode will be enabled, the users will see an extra button on thumbnails, in the Recent Apps screen and a square shape will appear to the left of the X button that will pop up. When pressing on the square symbol for a random application, the user will be sent to a screen that will show that application in a floating window, situated at the top of the home screen wallpaper.

All floating applications will have title bars and the users will move them around by title bars, they will resize them exactly how they want by pressing or holding on the edge and when they’ll move their finger, they’ll see the application changing its shape. The freeform Window mode will work exactly like the split-screen mode, meaning that the applications will auto-switch between the tablet and phone layouts. However, the width and height can’t be adjusted because there’s no corner hotspot for that.



If the user will tap on the home or recent buttons, the windowed applications will be saved to a single windowed application environment, and if there’s only one application open in this windowed model in order to add another one, this can be done by going to Recent Apps and tapping on the square icon.

The cool thing about this mode is the mouse support. So, when pointing the mouse over the edges of applications, the mouse pointer will turn into a standard “resize” symbol.

How To Enable Freeform Mode

This is a risky move that could stop the device from being able to install upcoming updates that will be available over the air, so the users would need to reset their phones to a stock system. So, it’s important to backup data and the device must be rooted. Also, the users will need a computer with fastboot and to have installed the Android SDK Tools.

The Nexus owners will need to flash a custom recovery tool such as TWRP, then download the right image file, which will be saved in the same folder as the SDK tools. The phone will be rebooted into fastboot mode and the users will hold these buttons at the same time: Power and Volume Down. The phone will be plugged into the computer, then, in the directory will be opened a command where the users will type in: fastboot flash recovery [name of your TWRP image].

The flash will finish and the phone will boot into recovery mode and the users will scroll through the menus using the volume keys. By pressing Power, they will confirm the action. In the custom recovery will be mounted the system partition as writable and in order to do that, the users will need TWRP. They will press the Mount button and after that, they’ll check the System box.

Next, on the computer will be opened an ADB shell (by typing in ADB Shell after opening a command line, then hitting enter), and lastly, the users will type in these commands and hit enter after each one:

cd /system/etc/permissions
sed -e “s/live_wallpaper/freeform_window_management/” android.software.live_wallpaper.xml >freeform.xml

This is it. The phone will boot up normally and the users will go to the Recent Apps screen, where they will see the square button appearing on each item, being situated next to the “close” button.

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