Android N, Here’s How to Turn the Freeform Mode (Windowed)!

A few days ago, wandering between the source code for Android N Developer Preview, Ars Technica had found clues of such “Freeform mode”, basically a system that would allow the Android app to turn in window just as they do in traditional operating systems for desktop computers. A sort of “formalization” of Remix OS, that now it was discovered how to activate; the procedure is simple-we say that is reserved for geeks experts of Roma, custom recovery and adb-but neither is overly complicated, and running in a matter of minutes.

Prerequisites and warnings

How Freeform works on any device running Android N Developer Preview, whether it be a tablet or a smartphone. The device must have the unlocked bootloader and custom TWRP installed (you do not need to enable root access privileges). There are no real risks; you could, however, lose the OTA updates Beta program, at least until you return to a “stock” System.Finally, you have to have an environment modding properly configured on your PC: USB drivers installed, the SDK and Fastboot tool-the usual stuff, you know.

How do you

  • Boot the device into recovery.
  • Mount the partition/system in R/W mode by pressing Mount and check the box System.
  • On your PC, from the command prompt, open a shell command ADB ADB Shell.
  • At this point, enter these commands, each followed by enter (you can copy and paste directly from here):
    • CD/system/etc/permissions
    • SED-e “s/live_wallpaper/freeform_window_management/’ android.software.live_wallpaper.xml > freeform.xml

At this point the device is restarted and, if all went well, the Freeform mode becomes available. To access it, simply press the Multitasking and wait a few seconds, you will see a button at the side of X. Press it and the app will decrease in window.

How are you

Of course, the very first consideration: is not ready for the general public (the fact that you have to fiddle around with recovery custom was a clue rather glaring, on the other hand). The finestre “ture” actually on the screen, although it’s not the real Android desktop so there is only the background, no icons, no widgets. The core of the mechanism, however, seems to be and work pretty well: app resizing (although lacking the resize from the corner, then only vertically or horizontally), automatically switch from tablets to smartphones based on the size of the window, etc. It even seems that Mountain View has considered the input via mouse from the start: the pointer changes in classic opposing freccioline when you get close to the edges of an app.

To exit window, just press the Home button or Multitasking, but open apps in window are saved in a “space” dedicated and are again accessible when you return to windowed mode. To do this, simply press the Multitasking: the layout of the screen changes radically, and some previews of the app is actually a button to maximize them (although it does absolutely nothing for the moment). There is no app drawer, but the apps created with alternative systems (by clicking on a link to Play Store or YouTube, for example) will engage directly in the window.

The performance, as expected, are unreliable. Apps crash when they lose focus, are planted and fail to recover, the graphics are incomplete, there are elements that are not what you expect or are missing altogether. Hard to tell whether you will be all set for the official release of N or if you have to wait, it is certain that Google finally seems interested in expanding its desktop system in the world.