What do we think when we talk about smartphone innovation? A powerful processor, almost the same display with a higher refresh rate, a relatively good camera upgrade, and removal of physical ports. What else? When we ran out of the room for innovation, we took a detour towards flip phones. As a result, Samsung launched their first innovative foldable smartphone in 2019 with not so innovative name, Samsung Fold. This phone could fold like a book.
This phone failed to impress the user base because of two major reasons- A. its exorbitant price and B. its compromised structural integrity. Nevertheless, people appreciated the effort and wanted to see what’s next.
To make their foldable phones more consumer-friendly, Samsung launched their all-new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. Samsung desperately tried to infuse the nostalgia of flip phone with this one. But at the very first glance, it reminded us of a compact powder box.
Considering the reaction of global consumers with varied preferences, people are trying to figure out the application of these foldable smartphones. However, they are quite fascinated by this technology.
What does it mean when a smartphone folds in half?
There are majorly two types of innovation. First, that provides the solutions to the existing needs. Second, that creates the need and then offers the solution. A foldable smartphone belongs to the latter one. While we are still exploring the applications of a foldable smartphone, we cannot underestimate the potential that lies within the revolutionary technology of a flexible display.
Coming to the point, when a smartphone folds in half, it simply means it is taking a new shape, a new screen ratio, a new environment, and limitless possibilities for both hardware and software innovation. For a moment, don’t think about the foldable smartphones, think about the applications of a flexible display. Now we are thinking in a broader perspective. We are thinking about wallpaper TVs and rolling TVs launched by LG, creative billboards for the next-gen advertising, and many more.
This is what happens when we take a step back to take a bird-eye view of a situation, we begin to consider all possibilities. Now that we are thinking in the right direction, let’s get back to our foldable Samsung Galaxy Z flip smartphone. What does it have to offer us? Please remember that we are not considering the structural integrity of the phone, because it is something that can be achieved in the near future. But what we are considering is the possibilities with a foldable smartphone.
First of all, having a foldable screen makes it compact and easy to carry and a new screen to body ratio. A foldable screen also means that your phone has two displays that can be used simultaneously for two different purposes. Also, the additional surface area is always a good option for an immersive user-experience. If you remember Surface Duo which was introduced by Microsoft last year, then you might know how beautifully they managed two displays in one phone while offering a seamless user experience. The same can be achieved by having a foldable display and modern capabilities of operating systems.
Hence, in other words, when a smartphone folds into half, it unfolds the limitless possibilities lying ahead in the future of innovation.
Foldable Smartphones and App Developers
When hardware turns over a new leaf, it opens a new chapter of possibilities for mobile app developers. And it is often good news for the consumers. But let’s focus on the developers right now. The following things are new for the foldable smartphones like Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and Samsung Galaxy Fold, etc.
In commercials and hands-on videos, we have witnessed one very intriguing attribute of these foldable smartphones, i.e. app continuity. Actually, we are talking about resizable apps. Foldable displays in smartphones like Samsung Galaxy Z Flip offers to switch display aspect ratios by folding and unfolding it. Here, resizable apps play a substantial role in offering a seamless immersive experience to the users while switching between different aspect ratios.
For users, it is quite an experience to see apps transitioning from one window to another window without any stutter or lag.
New Aspect Ratios
Foldable or flexible displays can take any shape and that results in a new aspect ratio. These aspect ratios may vary from 21:9 to 1:1. Any device may have more than one aspect ratio depending on whether is folded or unfolded. Therefore, it becomes crucial for the app developers to test their apps on as many aspect ratios as possible. This way developers can make their apps smooth and fluid while transitioning.
However, a larger display means the apps should also be resizable and able to run on the desktop mode in order to offer a great user experience.
Multi-window for Multi-task
Multi-window and multitasking have been here for quite a while but having extra display areas provided by foldable display offers an edge over the multi-window interface we have been using so far. Foldable smartphones are in a segment that can be fit between tablets and smartphones. Because the display of foldable smartphones is larger than normal smartphones but smaller than tablets.
With this extra space, a user should be able to run 2 or 3 apps at the same time while being able to share content from one app to another with the help of intuitive interfaces like drag and drop.
In order to avoid offering your users a half-baked mobile app, you should test your mobile app for foldable devices as well. And as an app developer you must observe how your app reacts to:
- Configuration Changes
- Multi-window and multi-resume
- Resizing and new screen ratios
Furthermore, you should thoroughly your apps on foldable emulators as well to see how your apps respond to a changing environment and how well it adapts to it.
Folding Things Up
Display notches came up and not everyone liked it. It’s funny how people are smartphones with a notch on the top today. The foldable smartphones received a somewhat similar response from the consumers and guess what, foldable displays are here to stay. However, the major work relies on app developers and how they can leverage the potential of this hardware innovation. Let’s see how app development unfolds a new perspective to look at foldable displays. And this is what the Samsung Galaxy Z flip is struggling with, it is struggling to make its own identity. What exactly it is? A normal smartphone that folds into half or a whole new smartphone with some exclusive capabilities.
I guess we all need to wait and find out.
Rahul Mathur is the founder and managing director of ARKA Softwares, a company renowned for its outstanding mobile app development and web development solutions as well as specialized in Android and iOS app development. Delivering high-end modern solutions to all over the globe, Rahul takes pleasure in sharing his experiences and views on the latest technological trends.