A first look at Google’s foldable phone UI

Chris Burns - Nov 7, 2018, 1:09 pm CST
1
A first look at Google’s foldable phone UI

Today Google revealed their first visuals for Android on folding display smartphones. This system is simple and was almost certainly heavily influenced by what Samsung’s working on in a folding phone. Incidentally (though in no way by chance) Samsung’s developer conference will reveal their own look at the foldable display smartphone user interface. Their version of Android with a folding display in mind – but first, here’s what’s been presented by Google.

Google revealed their first images and animations for foldable Android at a keynote during a low-key Android developer summit this week. “And just when you thought you’d seen everything in phones, we’re about to see a whole new form factor idea from Android device-makers,” said Dave Burke, Vice President of Engineering, Android. “Foldables.”

This should come as little surprise for SlashGear readers as we’ve been following the development of foldable displays and smartphones for the past several years at least. Major manufacturers like LG and Samsung have had their hands on foldable, bendable, and flexible display technology for the past half-decade. Now that tech is coming to fruition in not only oddly-shaped rigid displays, but displays that the end user can flex and fold.

“[Foldables] take advantage of new flexible display technology – the screen can literally bend and fold,” said Burke. “You can think of the device as both a phone and a tablet. Broadly, there are two variants – two-screen devices and one-screen devices. When folded, it looks like phone, fitting in your pocket or purse.”

Above: the fold in action! This is one of many, many different ways in which a foldable display on a smartphone might work on Android. Below: You’ll see David Burke speaking about Android at this dev summit. The part about foldable phones comes in at around the 48-minute mark.

We’ve seen demonstrations with demo devices – but almost nothing ready for the market at large. So far, we’ve only scratched the surface. Finally, now, we get to start seeing what’s possible in software. Samsung will reveal more of their first device and UI today and tomorrow at the Samsung Developer Conference.

“The defining feature for this form factor is something we call screen continuity. For example, you might start a video on the folded smaller screen while on the go, but later sit down and want a more immersive experience. You can simply unfold the device to get a larger tablet-sized screen. As you unfold, the app seamlessly transfers to the bigger screen without missing a beat.”

Google will likely reveal a whole lot more this week. Stick around our main news feed and our various tag portals for this and other similar devices through the future. This is the place, this is what’s up. It’s time to get weird. Next up – not just how flexible displays work, but why they’re coming to smartphones.


Must Read Bits & Bytes