Android is preparing for a foldable future
Foldable devices are coming. Samsung just unveiled its Galaxy X foldable device, and we know that the likes of Huawei, Lenovo, LG and even the unheard of Royole are all working on similar foldable devices.
However, with foldable devices on the way, they’ll all need a foldable operating system to run on them, otherwise it’ll be one hell of a bad user experience. Thankfully, Android is ready to heed that call.
At this year’s Dev Summit, Google is hosting a “Foldables Session” as it expects to see foldable devices coming from several Android manufacturers this year. “We’re optimising Android for this new form factor,” said Stephanie Cuthbertson, director of product management in a blog post. “And, making changes to help developers everywhere take advantage of the possibilities this creates for amazing new experiences, new ways to engage and delight your users”.
According to Cuthbertson, there are two variants to foldables; two-screen devices and one-screen devices. When folded, they look like phones, fitting in your pocket or purse, but when unfolded, their defining feature is what Android calls “screen continuity”.
As an example, open a document with the folded smaller screen and later you can sit down and unfold the device to get a larger tablet-sized screen more as you would sitting at a desk. As you unfold, the app seamlessly transfers to the bigger screen without missing a beat.
An Android-based folding phone could be a significant milestone for those that work remotely. Rather than take a laptop everywhere – or even a tablet – and instead be able to use all your business apps, or tools from a device pulled out of your pocket that then unfolds could be a real game-changer.
And according to Google, this is something it has thought about as early as Android 1.6. Together with its partners, it has contemplated different screen sizes and densities, enabling the platform to power a broad category of form factors and new experiences like Android TV, Android Auto, Wear OS and even Android apps on Chromebooks.
Despite the recent events unveiling foldable phones, we can’t expect too many until next year. But when they’re ready to go, they should have a flexible operating system ready to go.