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How To Build Great Mobile Apps For Foldable Devices?

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 AM AH 19
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With the release of the folded devices, more and more details about these smartphones and software for them are beginning to appear. Taking into account that the device is unique, the developers need to optimize hundreds of popular Android apps and take into account the specific functioning of foldable devices when developing new mobile apps.

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We have identified three key areas that developers need to focus on to improve their applications for new form factor devices:

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  • Multitasking
    Expanding your workspace is the ability to show more detail since your application can run on two screens at once. Whether users are reading an article, scrolling through the feed, or browsing the gallery, having more items helps users see more of your content.
  • Flex Mode
    Folded devices are more than just a big screen device. They allow you to take advantage of the individual screens and do what you want without stopping. You can see your application on one screen and your tools on the other.
  • Multi-Window
    Your apps can run concurrently on different screens, so you can accomplish larger tasks without losing context. When launching an application or opening a new window, the content will naturally flow across screens, facilitating side-by-side comparison and multitasking.

Responsive App Display Modes

If you’re developing an app with responsive display modes, it will display correctly on any device, regardless of the size and orientation of its screen. Leverage existing technologies to create platform-specific UI display modes that automatically resize the view to fill the screen. If you have elements that rely on screen size and aspect ratio, use the APIs provided by the UI framework to make the application responsive to screen size or aspect changes.
Since the application can run on different devices, you probably implemented support for different screen and window sizes during development, so the transition should be painless.

Consider Possible Device Orientations

We expect that the application will not always be used in the standard orientation, thus you need to try to support all possible orientations and screen configurations that may occur while using a foldable device. For example, suppose an application was explicitly designed for portrait orientation but still supports high-volume typing scenarios. In that case, users are may find it more comfortable to use in landscape orientation. You may not always be able to predict in what position the user will use the device, but if you consider all the possible options, you can optimize your application accordingly.

Support for Different Input Methods

Folded devices support different types of input, including typing, touching, and using the pen. In this case, the dual-screen device features allow users to reposition the device according to input requirements. To make the interface as user-friendly as possible, you need to support all available input methods in your application so that the users can work with the application in a way that suits them.

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Dragging

In-app drag-and-drop support is an additional way to provide an exciting user experience by implementing a user-friendly interface that supports different input methods on folded device. On a dual-screen device, where apps can run in parallel on different screens, the drag-and-drop feature makes things very easy. To implement drag-and-drop in your application, you first need to consider scenarios in which users must directly interact with text, links, images, or multi-functional objects, both in and outside the application.

Working with one Application on two Screens

Users may find it convenient to view the content of one application on a second screen. To provide this capability, you can support multiple instances of your application side by side. If you are building a multimedia application that allows video to play in the foreground while another application is running, try displaying one image in front of another. Thanks to the additional space on the screen, the user will be able to perform several tasks at once, for example, do something while watching a video.

Consider User Intent

If you are developing a dual-screen application, the transition to stretch mode should be done with the intent of the user in mind. Dual screens allow for more content area, they are convenient for multiple tasks or productivity activities, thus when developing an app pay attention to both dual portrait and dual landscape screen orientations. Pay attention to the idea of the device orientation when deciding on design patterns for dual-screen gadgets.

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Joint of Screens

Keep in mind to always offset content to one side due to a noticeable joint between the two screens, In such a case, some UI elements, especially those centered on the view, may overlap when the app is stretched. This does not affect the functionality of the application, but it will be more convenient for the user to work with it if you move the elements to one side of the screen.

By itself, the folding screen does not bring anything fundamentally new to Android development: the processing of folding and unfolding the screen falls on the initially provided mechanism for processing device configuration changes at runtime. A folding screen is several screens of different sizes that you can switch between while working. However, the special design and construction of the folded devices simply do not allow the release of an app without optimizing applications specifically for such devices. For example, the folded devices have a feature that can be referred to as app continuity. In this case, the app should automatically adapt to the resizable display when you open the smartphone’s foldable screen. Even if after the release of devices in the applications there are specific foldable problems that require some noticeable amount of time to solve, Samsung has set up several test labs to work on system and application optimization. And for those developers who cannot work in these laboratories, Google has created remote application testing.