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Android 7.0 introduced the native multi-window API which allows apps to be viewed in split-screen mode globally.

However, in actual usage, one downside prevents it from being as useful as some users would imagine. Many apps, when in the multi-window view but not in focus (i.e. user is interacting with another app in the multi-window view), pauses its activities: IM apps would no longer update incoming messages; music/video apps would pause playback; games would not proceed with their actions.

The official developer guideline briefly mentions the pausing behavior, and from what I understand, apps need to be programmed with this in mind so as to not exhibit it. But is there a way I can force the way around the limitation as a user? From what I've heard from fellow users, certain manufacturers' Android forks such as MIUI do not show such pausing whatsoever.

TL;DR: Can I prevent the out-of-focus app from pausing in multi-window?

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    @beeshyams YouTube is one known example of respecting multi-window (well-written), not sure about MX Player. I only asked this because some of my friends asked me about it when they're playing games (popular in China), and I did some tests and noticed some of my IM apps pausing as well. It probably is just Chinese developers not abiding by the guidelines, but the question stays the same. – Andy Yan Mar 1 '18 at 6:27
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Early this November, Google has confirmed that multi-resume - running two apps simultaneously without pausing - will be part of the next major Android release (Q), thus indirectly confirming that this functionality is currently not a part of AOSP Android.

However, Google also stated that...

To help developers provide the best user experience on multi-window with minimal effort, we're allowing device manufacturers to keep all apps resumed when in multi-windows in P.

To opt-in to this behavior in Android P, add the following meta-data in your app manifest:

<meta-data android:name="android.allow_multiple_resumed_activities" android:value="true" />

How to test: There are no device at the moment with this behavior but device manufacturers are working to update existing devices to allow developers to test. Stay tuned for more details from device manufacturers.

This implies that such functionality will be available in Android P at a later time. As of now (December 2018) though, there is zero reference to allow_multiple_resumed_activities in AOSP Android code, meaning that the time has yet to come.

Sources: Google Blog, XDA-Developers


Android Q beta was released on March 13, 2019, marking the first public debut of the multi-resume feature on non-OEM Android. Unfortunately, there's still no reference to allow_multiple_resumed_activities in AOSP Android P code (Q not open-source yet, obviously), and the "There are no device at the moment with this behavior" statement didn't change in the aforementioned blog either - the situation remains unchanged for the majority of users and the custom ROM community.

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    @beeshyams Yeah gotta say this should've been outed with the formal release of multi-window in the first place. I'll keep checking the code, and if it drops I'll see if I can "persuade" the OS to apply it globally with minor coding. – Andy Yan Dec 5 '18 at 13:20
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No that's not something you can effect as a user, or a developer. The multi-window behavior is defined by Android and any device that calls itself "Android" has implement the rules for multi-window life cycle.

The bottom line is the app needs to be coded to respect the resume/pause vs. start/stop differentiation. Prior to the invention of multi window the distinction between the two was tenuous at best. Now it actually matters.

In my experience, Google apps do a great job of working with multi window and it's hit or miss with everything else. YMMV.

  • I would actually live with the explanation, if it weren't for some users reporting that some Android forks have worked around it... – Andy Yan May 5 '18 at 0:56
  • @AndyYan is right, some forks seens to "ignore" this life cycle. – Tiago May 23 '18 at 13:34
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    I'd be really surprised. To be called "Android" you have to test a comprehensive test suite and I'm sure a little something like violating the Activity lifecycle would fail it. The start / stop / pause / resume semantics for multi window / display are well documented. developer.android.com/guide/topics/ui/multi-window#lifecycle – Jeffrey Blattman May 23 '18 at 16:12

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