The human brain seems to be inherently capable of multitasking. We can watch the drama while eating, take a shower while listening to the song, or have a chat with the people around us when we return to Whatsapp, even if we are doing two unrelated things at the same time, it can still behave very naturally .

Mobile vs Computer Explained In Details

A survey report by Civic Science in 2019 showed that nearly 60% of people would do something else on their ‘second screen’-mobile phone, tablet or laptop when watching TV on TV For example, chatting on Whatsapp, searching for information or even playing games is equivalent to letting the brain receive and process information on the TV and another device at the same time.

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In other words, many people actually have a tendency to ‘multitasking’. We can solve two or more things in the same scene, just like opening several programs on the computer screen and skillfully switching back and forth between different windows. same.

However, as the closest electronic device to humans, smartphones seem to prefer letting us deal with one thing before we do another.

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For example, when you are waiting for a car ride on Didi, and you want to continue chatting with your friends on Whatsapp, most of the time we have to switch to Whatsapp, reply a sentence, and then switch back to the interface of Didi and stare at the car To switch back to Whatsapp to continue chatting.

This operation of switching back and forth does give us the illusion of multi-task operation, but in essence, the phone screen will only display a program interface, rather than let you stare at the running status of two applications for a long time, and the operation of the computer There is still a big difference.

It is also multi-tasking, and we can obviously obtain much higher operating efficiency on the PC than on the mobile phone. The easiest, you can open two windows side by side on the same screen, while working on the document, while browsing the auxiliary reference webpage; or when watching the video, use Yu Guang to glance at the little red dot of the chat software.

Therefore, the key to multi-tasking on the PC is that it allows you to process and receive information from multiple application windows at the same time on one screen.

On a mobile phone, when any application is started, the default is to cover the entire screen, and other tasks are all placed in the background. There is no concept of “windowing” at all, which also indirectly increases the complexity of multitasking operations.

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The reason why mobile applications are designed in this way is not without reason. The screen size is the biggest constraint. This also makes it difficult for mobile phones to obtain a multi-window tiled environment, let alone manufacturers have to take into account battery life, processor performance and Memory utilization.

Under these hardware constraints, early smartphone systems also intentionally restricted the operation of multitasking functions.

For example, before 4.0, the Android system will only display the six recently opened application icons on the management interface; while the fourth generation of iOS has a more decent multitasking background interface, but it is also presented by icons, which cannot be It reflects the running state of the application, so many people also call this type of design a ‘pseudo-background’.

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In order not to occupy CPU resources and power, these mobile phone applications that are placed in the background are also different from the “background running” on the computer. Simply put, they are more like being temporarily ‘sleeped’ in memory, and only when it wakes up again, it will restore the state of the interface you last exited from, and then continue to run.

And when the memory is tight, the system will automatically remove these applications that sleep in the background, which is what we often call the “system kills background” phenomenon.

Therefore, when some users wake up the application again, they may not see the screen when they last exited, but have to go through the loading bar again, which also indirectly leads to our distrust of the current mobile phone multitasking.

However, with the improvement of mobile phone performance and the popularity of large memory, the phenomenon of “killing the background” is now much less than before; the webOS-like card design also allows Android and iOS to be more intuitive and visual. Multi-task management interface.

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Smartphones also use another way to make up for the lack of ‘multitasking information processing’-notification push. Even if we can’t visually see the running status of background applications, once an application’s status changes, they can still be pushed out in a timely manner in the form of a message, and we don’t need to repeatedly open and check.

However, the improvement of the mechanism has not fundamentally solved the awkward situation of multi-tasking on the mobile phone. After all, even if the application can remain active in the background, when users reply to Whatsapp or transfer information to another application, they still need to use gestures to switch back and forth between the two applications, rather than let them collaborate with each other.

This is not an efficient operation process at all.

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‘Split screen mode’ was born under this demand, and its driving force also comes from the growing mobile phone screen to some extent.

Compared with the traditional switching background operation, Android split screen does improve the screen utilization efficiency, and also allows the mobile phone to obtain the ability to display two windows at the same time.

But the problem is that most Android applications do not adapt well to the split screen mode, so there is often an imbalance in the display ratio, which affects the scope of the split screen. Some users who have used similar functions probably have Touched.

In addition, many applications still do not support data dragging between each other after split screen, and there is still a certain gap with the interaction on the PC.

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On the contrary, it is the customized UI of domestic mobile phone manufacturers, which has a lot of good ideas for the multi-tasking design of mobile phones.

For example, Flyme, try to suspend high-frequency applications such as Whatsapp and gmail in the form of small windows on application interfaces such as games and videos, so that users can process another one without interrupting the use of the original application. Mission, this is far easier to use than the rude split-screen mode.

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On this basis, Xiaomi’s MIUI 12 also attempts to further expand the design of this floating window to other mobile phone applications. With the gesture interaction, you need to zoom in when you need to operate the “second application”, and you can zoom out and suspend when it is not needed, but it can still maintain the real-time running status, which realizes the experience of “multi-window on the same screen”.


The “One Step 3.0” proposed in Smartisan OS 7.0 by Nutgo Mobile allows the mobile phone to obtain the ability to run 4 foreground applications at the same time, making it easier to drag and share data such as pictures and files between different applications.


Now even Whatsapp has introduced the design of a “floating window” to address the need to “see the public account article while taking into account chat”. As long as it is not closed, the floating ball will always be displayed on the top layer of the Whatsapp interface, essentially simplifying the switching operation between two different windows such as chat, articles, and applets.

There are also programs that benefit from changes in equipment form. For example, Samsung has demonstrated a scene on its folding screen Galaxy Fold: after the presenter expands the screen, swipes from the edge to call out the Dock bar, open a new application, and it will automatically fill on the right side of the screen.

Unlike the floating window we mentioned earlier, because the folding screen has a larger screen area after being expanded, the application’s windowing does not need to block other applications, but can be implemented directly in a split-screen manner, and the application’s proportional size is not It will be so abrupt.

In fact, regardless of the number of windows opened, and the differences in interaction methods, most of the multitasking mechanisms designed by most mobile phone manufacturers at present have the common feature of application ‘windowing’.

In fact, this is also the part that best reflects the efficiency of multitasking. Just like you are on a PC, viewing multiple applications on the same screen is always more intuitive than switching back and forth and also facilitates the mutual flow of information.

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However, do mobile phone users really need to get the same screen and multiple windows as PCs, or use multiple applications for complex operations?

Some users may feel that there is no such requirement, because the screen of the mobile phone itself is already very small, and continuing to shrink the window will only bring inconvenience to operation, and indirectly sacrifice performance and battery life.

Rather than tossing mobile phones, bringing the multi-window function to iPad and other tablets seems to be able to play its application value.

But different people also have different reasons, especially when the performance of mobile phones becomes more and more powerful, can handle more complex data, and even the form is also changing, continue to develop the system around the past ‘single task’ thinking, obviously Some can’t keep up with the times.

If the platform parties can spend more time on the multi-tasking mechanism, maybe the smartphone is not just a content consumption device that can only be used to chat on Whatsapp, watch the web page, and flash video. The difference between the products can also be There are more manifestations on the software.