Samsung Expands Its Vision For Folding Smartphone Interactions

Samsung is looking to go beyond folding smartphones to include new interactions for devices that bend instead, based on a recent patent from the company that was spotted by Android Headlines at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The patent documents describe a new way for users to interact with applications that are split into two or more partitions on the screen based on the bending mechanism of a flexible smartphone. A user might hold the device in portrait mode and swipe along a verticle axis before bending the handset along a similar access. That would result in appropriate app actions and display elements being moved to either the bent or flat portion of the panel. As shown in several of Samsung's patent images, that might be useful in the camera, maps, or apps that access contacts.

For instance, a user could open up their gallery application and select an image after completing the bending action in order to bring up a list of contacts that the image might be shared within the second partition. The partitions appear to be sized and actions filling those chosen based on the app in use and where the user chooses to swipe along the verticle axis. Staying within the camera application itself, a user might choose to split the app's features so that the shutter and other adjustment options are on a separate partition from the viewfinder. Samsung's description says that would allow new gesture controls to be introduced -- such as a circular swiping motion on the preview side of the phone-- since the more typical UI would be moved out of the way.

Background: Samsung is only currently expected to unveil one smartphone with a flexible panel in 2019, tentatively dubbed that Samsung Galaxy F. That handset folds like out like a book and features a second display on the outside for use in either tablet or smartphone configuration. The internal "Main Display" portion of that is a flexible panel that measures 7.3-inches and has a resolution of 1536 x 2152. The phone-style secondary display measures just 4.58-inches at 840 x 1960, an aspect ratio of 21:9, and a pixel density of 420 dpi. The handset will bring with it a new variation on the Android OS interface that's been adapted for folding smartphones and a new version of Bixby among other things.

The display on the Samsung Galaxy F does not at all fold and bend as this new design appears to though and seems to follow other patents more closely, if it follows any of them at all. Among those that Samsung has been awarded since the above-mentioned screen was first touted at SDC 2018 several seem as though it might fit the design of the Galaxy F. One of the more recent of those, recently spotted by Android Headlines, centers its design around a watchband-style hinge. That's comprised of minuscule gears housed inside of watchband links, complete with pins holding them in place, that fold in a single pre-set direction. The Samsung Galaxy F could utilize a similar hinge design but the final version of that hasn't been outed by the company just yet.

Impact: Continuous innovations are a big part of how Samsung has managed to hold onto its position as the world's largest and most successful Android OEM. The new method for moving elements around actually appears perfectly suited for the recent revisions to Android as well. Those changes are designed to move elements around to the left or right-hand side of the screen or between the outer and inner displays explicitly for use by folding smartphones or tablets. Samsung's newly patented method would apparently only need to make minimal changes to Android's support for the platform in order to work. At the same time, it also alters what can be done with those methods in terms of user experience and widening the available interactions substantially.

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About the Author
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Daniel Golightly

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for AndroidHeadlines since 2016. As a Senior Staff Writer for the site, Daniel specializes in reviewing a diverse range of technology products and covering topics related to Chrome OS and Chromebooks. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering and has a background in Writing and Graphics Design that drives his passion for Android, Google products, the science behind the technology, and the direction it's heading. Contact him at [email protected]
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