Mobile phones have a long way in the past two decades. The change has been drastic, from brick phones to flip phones to QWERTY phones to touch screens. However, there is a recent development in the past two years that combines touch screens with the compactness of flip phones.
Foldable screens in phones represent a hidden technological leap behind the cool factor of having a touch screen that not bends but folds. As a result, they offer a much larger screen in a more compact package.
Gartner's global device forecast predicts that by 2023 phones with large and foldable screens may present five percent of the high-end smartphone market. However, this will be partially due to its novelty which will push a steady growth in sales. Nevertheless, there are concerns about the sustainability of this growth. The concerns stem from the high-cost to feature ratio and the functionality accommodated for apps' folding design.
Whether these phones continue their success story or are relegated to the confines of tech fads of yesteryears depends largely on certain app features that need to be there.
The Shift in Mobile App Development Due to Large & Foldable Screens
The availability of large and foldable screens on phones will impact mobile app development, especially if these phones become more widely available. The usual app development is for a single screen. However, a large foldable screen brings with it its unique challenges and possibilities. Therefore, the focus will shift to apps that handle multiple screens of different sizes and configurations.
The impact is more than just a UI change but will go deeper into the UX design aspect as well. Large and foldable screens offer the chance to improve upon the overall user experience. For example, calenders could show the whole month; reading apps can display in a more readable ratio and so on and so forth.
It is imperative that any app on a large and foldable screen is capable of transitioning from one configuration to another automatically and promptly. If the app is interrupted, then that will sour the user experience. The app continuity should be unbroken, and any work needs to resume in the same position irrespective of the foldable screen's configuration.
Future apps should have the feature that allows them to resize to work in a multi-frame mode. Without being able to resize properly, the app will not ensure compatibility with normal or foldable devices. Additionally, if the app cannot resize properly, it will not fully utilize the available screen resolution. For example, a video app leaving a large amount of black space on the screen when the screen is fully unfolded.
Split-screen functionality is available on newer phones; however, they do have limitations. With phones having a large and foldable screen having multi-screen support is a must for any app. Not just the ability to run multiple apps over different screens. But configuring the app to take advantage of the multiple screens that these kinds of phones offer. For example, a video app that displays the control over one screen and the video on the other. Or a news app that uses one window to show the article and the other to show the list of articles. The possibilities are limited to what can be developed.
Any app development for phones with large and foldable screens should have the multi-resume feature. It simply means that all apps remain active on a multi-window mode irrespective of which is in focus. Like, for example being able to read an article on a news website and run a video on YouTube at the same time.
Mobile apps for phones with large and foldable screens may seem like a new challenge, but many of the processes are still the same. However, one still needs to consider the features mentioned above as essential to creating a mobile app that works well. In addition, the user requirements are different for mobile devices for foldable or large screen devices, which are reflected in the features mentioned above.