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Developing For Multiple Displays And Folding Displays
Date: 3/26/2021

Foldable phones and phones with multiple displays are two of the most prevalent new and innovative mobile device design trends in 2021. With several devices of this kind already on the market, many more on the horizon, and the steadily growing popularity of this segment, app developers definitely need to embrace the realities of developing for these new scenarios and come up with innovative design ideas to create apps that can really take advantage of these characteristics.

It is safe to say that developing for multiple displays and folding displays is in line to be a major design trend in 2021. Let us take a look at some key points regarding the development process.

Ground Realities

While foldable phones are still at an early adoption stage, their popularity is growing steadily and most major mobile manufacturers are set to dabble with this design language in the near future. Foldable phones and phones with multiple displays give users extra screen real estate that can be used creatively for better productivity and content consumption. It is up to app developers to create apps that can truly leverage the form factor and the extra display real estate to create compelling apps.

Keeping this in mind, there are a few important core design philosophies and techniques that are likely to come in handy.

Continuity

It’s critical for apps to transition seamlessly from one screen to the next. Whether scaling across one display or more, the app usage experience should be consistent.

Rather than design two dramatically different app renders for two different usage modes, implementing app continuity is a more productive way to maximize the utility of both screens.

Aspect Ratios

With many devices and many aspect ratios to play with, developers in 2021 need to carry out extensive testing across different aspect ratios to ensure maximum compatibility. Android 10 (API level 29) has already brought support for foldables with different folding patterns. With different manufactures coming up with new and innovative formats, it’s critical for apps to scale perfectly to specific aspect ratios.

Resizable Apps

With multiple screens or foldable screens, seamless switching of app size to one or multiple displays is imperative. Making apps automatically and manually resizable gives users more control over how they want the app to display across different device states.

Multi-Window Capability

Modern phones already have the capability to run floating app windows or two apps sharing one screen. With foldable and multi-display phones, there is an opportunity to enhance multitasking by creating app designs that scale well to multi-window workflows. Having two or even three apps open at the same time can enable users to make full use of the additional screen real estate. Developers need to keep this in mind while designing apps.

Multi-Resume Support

With better multitasking, it is imperative that apps can pause while not in focus and resume in the exact same state when brought back into focus. Integrating support for seamless resuming is crucial while developing apps for these formats. For foldables, the resume state needs to cover folding and unfolding the phone.

The Way Forward

Developing apps for foldable devices and devices with multiple displays is sure to be a challenge app developers need to negotiate in 2021. With multiple new devices with innovative designs on the horizon, it is exciting to see this scenario unfold and developers respond with similar innovation and creativity.