Whether you’re a phone fanatic or prefer your Nokia 3310, it’s going to be hard to avoid the latest smartphone revolution: foldable technology.
Three of Asia’s biggest manufacturers – Samsung, LG, and Huawei – have all announced their first foldable display phones.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold, the LG DualScreen, and the Huawei Mate X have made headlines around the world, but whether consumers are ready for bendable phones is another thing.
You might be a fan or think foldable technology is a fad, but regardless of your view, it’s important to make changes to your mobile applications to appease customers and stay at the top of your game.
If you’re too slow to embrace new technology, competitors might get there first. Below, we outline what to think about when designing apps for foldable displays.
You’re already doing it!
Both Android and iOS operate on a variety of screen sizes and styles, so the chances are that your app works on both smartphones and tablets.
Of course, there are lots of things to bear in mind when it comes to user experience – tablet users have more screen real estate, so you can, therefore, include more functionality and visible objects, but the process is pretty much the same.
When it comes to adding support for a foldable display, you effectively need to work out how to transition your smartphone app experience into a tablet experience and marry the two together. That’s a much simpler task than designing a new UX from scratch.
Add value, not size
With a 7.3-inch tablet-sized display, the Samsung Galaxy Fold will elevate the smartphone experience and give users more flexibility and control when using their favourite apps.
But as we saw when Apple introduced the iPhone 5 and then the 6 Plus, developing an app for a bigger screen doesn’t mean you should increase the size of your fonts – you should scale your user experience to the size of the device, and include additional functionality to fill the gaps and incentivise users to engage with your brand.
An e-commerce brand, for example, could offer a standard shopping experience on a smartphone, but on a foldable display give users tools like an augmented reality wardrobe or changing room, whereas a networking app might display more profiles and content when it’s unfolded.
Think about adding value to your core app experience and take advantage of the increased screen space, rather than simply blowing up your existing app experience to perform in the same way as it does on a phone.
Android has added support
Although Apple is reportedly working on its own foldable iPhone, the only foldable devices on the market right now operate on Android, and the good news is that Google has already added support for foldable and multi-screen displays.
Their latest release includes support for continuity, multi-resume, and multi-display, and offers tests for foldable applications under developer options.
Even without getting your hands on a device, you can develop and test an app and have it ready for release once foldable devices go on the market later in the year.
Continuity is key
Foldable displays offer an entirely new form factor but can be most closely compared to hybrid laptops with detachable tablet displays.
When developing an application for foldable displays, consider how your app will transition from one screen to another, and ensure your app supports runtime configuration changes to save and restore UI states.
If a user starts filling out a form on their small screen, they should be able to pick up where they left off on the larger tablet-sized screen, and vice versa.
Adopt Android’s best practices and test your app to ensure you deliver a streamlined, consistent user experience across every touchpoint.
Foldable screens are niche
With a starting price of more than £1,500, first-generation foldable phones are expensive, and as such will only appeal to a small segment of the population.
If you’re concerned about the costs of developing a standalone app for foldable displays, then consider giving it a miss until the technology has advanced and is proven in the market.
Having said that, those who purchase a cutting-edge smartphone likely have higher levels of disposable income, so in some business niches such as the luxury goods sector, it may be worth the investment to get on the foldable train as soon as you can, setting your business apart from your competitors.
There’s no denying that foldable technology is in its infancy and that it might take a few years to iron out some of the kinks (quite literally, when it comes to the display!), but embracing the technology and experimenting with the increased screen real estate and flexibility of a tablet display in your pocket makes sense. Being one of the first to deliver an original foldable app experience in your niche can also double up as a differentiator and marketing opportunity.
Contact the app development experts at Zudu today if you need help developing a foldable app that unlocks new revenue streams, drives loyalty and raises your brand awareness.
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