Realme’s latest update has quietly stopped split screen mode working on third party Android launchers. Realme’s explanations have been somewhat contradictory, resulting in a third party launcher developer calling the company out.
Split screen mode stops working
Split screen mode seems to have stopped working with third party launchers when Realme rolled out its RMX2001_11_B.33 update.
Third party launchers are an important element to the Android experience. They allow users to customise their home screens and also offer alternative themes and gesture controls.
An anonymous source first noticed the problem on their Realme 6 when split screen mode stopped working with Nova launcher last month. Users on Reddit also flagged the problem with another third party launcher, Evie.
Split screen functionality is big feature for some Android users. It allows multiple apps to run alongside one another, which is useful for multitasking. It’s particularly great on larger phones.
Realme offers two different responses
When the source reached out to Realme about rollback, the company said it was unable to help with the in-built restrictions of third party launchers.
“We apologise for the inconvenience. We would like to inform you that Nova launcher is third party app, we unable to guide about its usage and in-built restrictions,” a customer service spokesperson said in an email to the source on June 17.
However, Nova launcher hadn’t added any restrictions to prevent split screen mode from working. Gizmodo Australia reached out to Realme regarding this disparity. The company has now admitted that the restrictions lie on its end.
“In the latest Realme UI update, third party launchers do not have access to Realme UI’s split screen functionality,” a Realme spokesperson said in an email to Gizmodo Australia on June 22.
“Users are able to implement the split screen functionality for full customisation and personalisation of their device directly via the new Realme UI. As a result of this update, third party launchers are no longer required.”
Realme was subsequently queried on why it originally placed the blame on third-party launchers.
“After further discussion with the software engineers, they have shared that when the Realme UI update was being built, they became aware of an existing bug that caused functionality issues when using third party launcher apps. Specifically, split-screen function through the 3rd party launcher app was freezing and causing glitches,” a Realme spokesperson said over email.
“Obviously Realme isn’t responsible for third party applications. However, to resolve the bug and ensure the best user experience, Realme disabled use of the split screen functionality via third party launchers during the latest UI update.”
“In the initial customer response shared we recognise that it wasn’t made clear as to why this issue was occurring and for that we apologise. Unfortunately, some apps don’t have software that is compatible with the latest Realme UI.”
Realme also stated that if third party launchers can guarantee a stable experience the company would consider reinstating split screen functionality.
Nova Launcher developer responds
Teslacoil, the company behind Nova launcher says that it is not aware of any bug impacting split screen functionality on third party launchers. It also stated that Realme has never contacted the company about any issues or bugs.
“I’m not aware of what existing bug Realme claims happened with [third] party launchers and their split screen functionality,” a Teslacoil spokesperson said in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
“We’ve received a ton of emails recently about them disabling the functionality, but never any prior emails suggesting a bug.”
Teslacoil believes that if the bug exists it most likely appeared in the latest update. However, no one in their user base reported such a bug.
“I think the most likely explanation is that they’re not being completely honest and the bug in question came up during development of this new update,” the spokesperson said.
“Instead of fixing it properly, they just blocked split-screen with 3rd party launchers. OEMs, and even Google at times, treat 3rd party launchers as an afterthought. It’s incredibly frustrating for launcher developers and users.”
Teslacoil has also suggested said Realme should be able to fix this in order give users freedom of choice.
“If there is some way I could make a change on my end to resolve this situation for Nova users I’d love to. Though truly they should just fix it at the system level so users have the freedom to use any launcher. Split-screen functionality isn’t related to or part of the launcher, it’s in the SystemUI. On standard Android you can have split-screen even with no default launcher set,” the spokesperson said in an email.
Realme has suggested that users use its native launcher if they want to utilise split screen functionality.