Android 12 may add a “stashing” feature to Picture-in-Picture mode
Multitasking is one of Android’s biggest strengths over iOS as a mobile OS. With features such as split-screen view, picture-in-picture mode, and bubbles, Android offers many ways to interact with apps while using other apps. In Android 12, picture-in-picture mode is set to get a lot of new functionality, while bubbles may get subtle animation tweaks.
Picture-in-Picture mode on Android 12
Picture-in-picture mode was first introduced for phones in Android Oreo, but it has seen relatively few functional updates since then. In Android 11, Google quietly added the ability to resize PiP windows. Expanding/shrinking a PiP window involves dragging your finger inward or outward starting from right outside one of the corners. In my experience, the gesture is a bit inconsistent and can be improved.
Resizing picture-in-picture windows on Android 11
Fortunately, Google is working on new ways to resize PiP windows in Android 12. You’ll be able to pinch to resize as well as double tap to automatically resize the window to its max size (or return to its last resized state). A nice crossfade animation will be used when resizing, making it appear seamless.
Resizing adjustments aren’t all that’s new for picture-in-picture mode in Android 12. Google is also preparing to add a “stashing” feature to PiP windows. This feature will let users temporarily hide most of the PiP window by dragging it to the left/right edge until about a third of the PiP window is off-screen. Users can also fling the PiP window to stash it from one edge to the other. PiP windows can be unstashed by simply tapping on them.
New Bubble Animations
Android’s Bubbles feature was born out of a desire to replace the OS’s broad System_Alert_Window API with a more focused API that exists to give all messaging apps Facebook’s chat heads feature. It graduated from a beta feature in Android 10 to a public feature in Android 11, and in Android 12, it’s set to get a few UI tweaks. First, Google is working on new animations for bubbles. There will be a fading/scaling down animation when dragging out an expanded bubble, softer expand/collapse animations, and a softer transition between bubbles. In landscape mode, bubbles will be shown vertically on the left/right side rather than horizontally at the top. Google is also enabling flexible bubble sizing and enabling fixed positioning, two features said to be designed for Chrome OS and its ARC++ container.
A video showing Android 11’s Bubbles features in Facebook Messenger.
Apart from changes to PiP windows and bubbles, Google is also preparing to upgrade Android’s split-screen multitasking system with the addition of App Pairs. App Pairs will let you launch set up pairs of apps to launch in split-screen view, a feature that first appeared in software from other OEMs and from third-party developers. 9to5Google first revealed this feature’s existence, and we can now corroborate that it is present in Android 12.
We do not know what these changes will look like in Android 12, but we likely won’t have to wait long to find out. These features may not be active in the first Android 12 Developer Preview, and if so, we will try to enable them so we can demonstrate these changes.
Featured image: Picture-in-picture mode in Android 11