Two days ago I received an email from T-Mobile informing me that a major software update was going to be released for the Samsung Galaxy Note II on 19 December. I fired up my Note II, went to the software update section, and the 73.29 MB update started downloading over T-Mobile's HSPA+ network. I then installed the update and am excited to try out the new multi-window feature over the holidays. Thanks for the early Christmas present Samsung and T-Mobile!
In the past I rooted and installed custom ROMs on most of my Android devices, but I actually find TouchWiz and the Jelly Bean software on the Note II to be excellent so haven't even thought about hacking it up. If you did root your device, then you may not see this update and this is made clear by T-Mobile on their update page. You can download and install the update OTA or via the Kies software. The update includes the following:
- New multi-window feature
- Resolves Exchange calendar events not appearing on device Calendar
- Resolves issues with being unable to swipe through Gmail messages
The multi-window feature was available for the international model before and is a feature made better by the large 5.5 inch display on the Note II. Multi-window lets you run two apps at once on the display. You press and hold the back arrow (bottom right button below the display) and a Apple-esque dock appears on the left with a list of supported app shortcuts. You then drag an app shortcut from this left dock and the app opens. Drag another and a split window appears with both apps open. If you drag a third then the one area you drag it onto changes to that apps so that just two apps can be shown in windows at the same time. You can easily drag the divider to resize both windows and tap a button on the screen to swap windows. A small half circle appears on the left as the dock is minimized and tapping it opens the dock back up to let you choose apps again.
As you will see in the dock, not every application you have installed is supported in multi-window. However, there is broad support and many of them are the types of apps you want to use this way. Supported apps on my Note II include the following:
- Google Maps
- Polarus Office
- T-Mobile TV
- Google Talk
- Video Player
I was a bit disappointed to see the Google Movies is not supported and 3rd party Twitter clients don't appear in the list either. I am not sure if developers can update apps to support multi-window mode or not and am trying to find out that answer.
Related CBS Interactive coverage
- Samsung Galaxy Note II accessories: Colored Flip Covers and AllShare Cast Wireless Hub
- CNET: Samsung Galaxy Note II review: The ultimate anti-iPhone
- Better hardware and software make the Galaxy Note II the best Android available
- Top 5 smartphones for the holiday season
- T-Mobile Galaxy Note II first impressions: Samsung stepped up to the plate with this upgrade
- Camera phone comparison; iPhone 5, Note II, HTC 8X, Lumia 920
- Hands on: Galaxy Note II and yes, size matters
- T-Mobile Galaxy Note II available today for $379.99, I'm upgrading to it from the GSIII