How to Build Apps for Foldable Devices: New Possibilities
After Samsung released Galaxy Z Fold in 2019, a new player appeared in the market, a brand new and unique design that has come to break the monotony of traditional smartphones.
Is it possible that foldable devices may push modern smartphones out of the game? Everything depends on how much they are functional. Time will show. For now, we will watch how things go and think about how to be a part of the trend by developing some cool stuff for foldable devices.
If you want to keep up with the latest trends and innovations, it’s a great time to start exploring the new technology standing behind Android foldables.
In this article, you will explore the process of building apps for foldables.
Here’s what’s you will learn:
- Why is it worth building apps for foldable devices?
- How do foldables impact app development?
- Key considerations for the development of foldable apps
- Challenges of building apps for foldables
- Step-by-step process of app development
Let’s dive right into the guide and explore app development for foldable devices!
What are Foldable Devices?
The term “foldable device” goes back to 2008 when Nokia introduced the Morph concept. The distinctive characteristic is the availability of flexible OLED displays that can be folded into a double-size full-screen display.
Foldable devices provide users with a better and more immersive experience. The most vivid example of such a device is Samsung Galaxy Fold, now available for purchase. However, the technology is predicted to become more popular among manufacturers of smartphones and tablets.
In fact, according to Statista, 75,6 million foldable smartphone displays will be shipped in 2025.
So, it’s about time you learn some basics of building apps for foldable devices.
How Foldables Impact App Development
While the foldable technology seems exciting from the users’ point of view, there is no clear understanding of how it will impact mobile app development. The technology already has quite a notable impact on the industry, with a lot of companies exploring the new technology.
Let’s explore some of the changes and benefits that foldable devices bring to app development:
- Extra screen estate – the main idea behind foldable devices is to provide users with an immersive experience thanks to the availability of a large screen. The foldable technology turns two screens into a single and big one.
- Small size – today, users need to choose between a compact form factor and a big screen. With foldable devices, they get everything in one device. Foldable smartphones can provide double the screen of the traditional device.
- New content types – thanks to the availability of additional screen, creators will be able to release new forms of content that will take full use of the added screen size.
- More features – modern smartphones have a limited screen size that doesn’t allow them to fit all the needed features. With foldable devices, it will be possible to create multi-screen applications that will provide users with more features on a single screen.
Foldable tablets and smartphones will one day take over the world of such devices, and they will bring along a lot of opportunities.
Challenges of Building Apps for Foldables
Before diving into developing an app for foldable smartphones, make sure you know the challenges that will stand in your way. Consider the following factors to build a high-quality and user-friendly foldable application:
No one is saying that the development of apps for foldable devices is a walk in the park. You will need to keep in mind that foldable phones must provide multiple orientations and have a different aspect ratio from traditional smartphones.
However, user expectations remain the same. They want to have a glitch-free experience when using your app. Thus, you need to know how to develop apps for foldable smartphone; otherwisee, your app is doomed.
Foldable solutions provide different use cases and scenarios. To make sure that there won’t be any bugs hiding in the background, you will need to test every feature and possible usage scenario. It will result in more hours and costs spent on QA and testing the multi-window app.
Higher Development Time and Cost
If you decide to build an app for a foldable device or make an existing one compatible, you will be taking your solution into a new space. You will need to design, develop and test your app for a number of modes and multiple use cases. And with more work come higher expenses and time needed for development.
Tweaks & Changes
After you launch your application to the market, you will need to make a number of changes based on received user feedback. This is especially important if you already have an app and want to make it compatible with foldable devices.
If you want to know how to overcome all of the mentioned challenges during foldable app development, continue reading the article to explore the best approaches that will allow you to do just that.
How to Develop Apps for Foldable Smartphones: Main Considerations
As you already know, the development of apps for foldables is different from the creation of traditional websites. You need to carry it in mind through all steps – from design to development and testing.
Two Screen States
There are two states of the screen on foldable smartphones – folded and unfolded screen.
In the folded state, a foldable device looks like a regular smartphone or tablet. There is no difference in how users interact with the smartphone and the features.
In the unfolded state, a regular smartphone transforms into a huge-screen device. The extra space creates an immersive experience and a lot of challenges for feature development.
As a result, you will need to design your app to operate in both states. You will need to decide what happens after a user unfolds the device and which features you will show on screens.
In the unfolded state, a smartphone gives a lot of room for building new features that have been impossible before.
One or Two-Handed App Design
The state of the screen changes the whole user experience.
In most cases, users interact with their smartphones with one hand. In the unfolded state, they will need to interact using both hands. Thus, you will need to adjust the placement of user interface elements accordingly.
Multi Window State
As mentioned before, the main idea behind foldable smartphones is to provide users with larger screen and better multitasking. In some cases, users might interact with a few multi-window apps so keep it in mind when designing and developing the app for a foldable device.
Moving from folded to the unfolded state should be automatic and seamless for end-users. The app must resume its location and state.
You need to minimize the number of interface layout shifts; otherwise, such shifts will interrupt the user experience.
Foldable devices are known for their multi-window feature. Before Google released Android 10, only one app resumed after the phone was blocked. The latest versions of Android allow users to open a few apps alongside each other. All of the opened apps can resume their state without freezing other ones.
When building apps for foldables, you need to keep in mind this functionality that allows for multi-window mode.
How to Build Apps for Foldables: Services & Processes
Before you learn how to create apps for foldables, you first need to understand the main stages of app development.
In most cases, you will see the companies divide the process into two stages: discovery and development.
1. Discovery Stage
The discovery stage is vital for long term victory of your foldable application, and it permits you to spare time and cash on reworkings within the future.
In case you work with the IT seller, it'll utilize the revelation arrangement to recognize your needs, specialized prerequisites, and how the group will address the advancement preparation.
Key deliverables of the revelation organize incorporate:
- Market analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Functional specifications
- Product backlog
A significant part of the discovery stage is dedicated to UX/UI design. You will need to create the logic behind the user interface, identify how users will interact with your foldable application, and the visual aspects of its UI.
The deliverables of UX/UI phrase include:
- UX wireframes
- UI mockups
- Branding elements (e.g., logo, unique icons, etc.)
- Illustrations and animations
2. Development Stage
The development stage is committed to the coding and creation of your application. At this organization, you may have to characterize the total set of future errands, make details for your venture, and set a timeline for usage.
Usually, development is divided into a few phases:
- Coding – creating the code base for your future application, integration with API, and other third-party solutions.
- QA & Testing – an important part of mobile app development that ensures the functionality is realized according to specification. Depending on the type of application, this stage usually consists of different types of testing and QA.
- Deployment, Ongoing Development & Support – after the app’s release to the market, you will need to continue working on your foldable application. Ongoing support and updates will help it stay afloat, surprise users with new features, and timely bug fixing.
Building Apps for Foldables: Step-by-Step Guide
This part of the article will navigate you through a step-by-step process of building an app for foldables. You will learn how to organize development and make it seamless for your company.
7 stages of application development
1. Market Research & Competitor Analysis
Developing an app is impossible without knowing the market state and your competitors. This stage will help you get the answers to the following questions:
- What industry do you want to create a foldable device for?
- Who is your target audience?
- Who is your competition?
- What value will your app offer to users?
- What feature would you like to develop?
- How will your app be different from competitors?
2. App Concept Finalization
Knowing the answers to the above questions, you will be able to finalize the app concept, i.e., decide on the final set of features, how users will interact with your app, and the unique selling proposition.
3. App Monetization Strategy
The choice of the specific strategy depends on the type of app you will develop. Usually, there are a few options that you can choose from:
- In-app purchases
- Freemium model
After you are done with this stage, you can create a business model canvas to structure all the information for future application development.
Below you can see an example of a business model canvas created for a food delivery app.
4. Selecting IT Development Partner
In case you are not a tech-savvy developer and don’t want to deal with the development process, you will need to find a development company that will help turn your idea into a successful digital product. This stage is essential since choosing the wrong partner might cost you a lot of time and money wasted. Here is how you can decrease the risks and find a company that will become your reliable technical partner:
- Start the search with such platforms as Clutch, The Manifest, etc.
- Check portfolio for similar projects
- Ask the right questions to identify the company’s expertise
- Check reviews from current and former customers
- Choose the company based on favorable location
- Pay attention to English knowledge and cultural differences
5. Custom UX/UI for Foldable App
Create the design of your application considering all the specifics of developing apps for foldable devices. The product should be feature-rich and user-friendly while making the maximum use of the enlarged screen of foldable smartphones.
6. App Development
Any app should be created with scalability and security in mind. The architecture should be flexible making it possible to add new features with each new iteration.
7. Comprehensive Marketing Strategy
Today, building an app is not enough. You will need to work hard to connect users with your solution. Building and launching a market strategy is necessary if you don’t want all the efforts to go in vain.
A compensative marketing strategy can include SMM, content marketing, paid advertisements, participation in events, etc. You can start working on brand awareness long before you launch your app to the market.
How to Develop Apps for Foldable Smartphones: Article Sum-Up
Foldable devices are only developing roots in the world of portable devices. The most expressive example is Samsung’s foldable smartphones. Experts predict that the technology world will see a plethora of foldable devices in the future.
Now that you know how to create an app for foldables, it’s time to apply the gained knowledge to practice.
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Table of contents
Foldable devices are a smartphone or a table in a foldable form factor. They are equipped with flexible OLED displays that can be folded into a double-size full-screen display. Such devices provide users with an immersive experience and larger screen estate.
Foldable technology is comparatively new and presents a number of challenges for app developers. If you decide to create an application for such devices, you will need to design an app for two screen states, add multi-window support, ensure screen continuity and foresee a huge number of possible use cases.
Unlike regular apps, applications for foldable smartphones need to work on different screen ratios, have a more advanced user interface, and foresee a huge number of use cases.
During the development of a mobile app, you will need to solve a number of challenges, starting with market research and competition analysis and moving to the selection of the right development vendor, organizing the development process, and launching a comprehensive marketing strategy.