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Google announces native Android support for foldable smartphones

Leading up to Samsung's rumored announcement of a foldable phone, Android gains support for foldable displays.

Published onNovember 7, 2018

Android Foldable Smartphone Support
  • Google has announced that Android will natively support foldable smartphones.
  • By supporting the form factor, Google hopes to cut down on future fragmentation.
  • Google is working with Samsung to make sure Android works on its upcoming foldable smartphone.

Leading up to the Samsung Developer Conference, it was believed that the South Korean company would announce a foldable smartphone. Down the street at the Android Dev Summit, Google unveiled that Android would soon support foldable smartphones or “Foldables” like the one Samsung is currently working on.

Dave Burke, VP of engineering, defined foldables on stage as:

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.

As you can see from the below graphic, Android will be able to transform and adjust the user interface based on the foldable device’s orientation. As Burke put it, Android supporting these types of displays natively makes it easier for manufacturers and developers to build apps and hardware for the new form factor properly.

Android Support for Foldables

Just like by adding support for the notch in Android Pie, supporting foldables will also cut down on fragmentation. By offering tools to OEMs, the manufacturers can focus on building new devices without having to worry about modifying Android to fit the handset. If you saw our hands-on with the world’s first foldable smartphone, you know that Royole had to change Android to fit the phone. This should be a thing of the past. 

Hands-on with the world's first foldable smartphone (Video)
royole flexpai foldable smartphone display

To make sure that apps work properly with the foldable display, Google is updating its screen continuity API. Using this, developers will be able to have their apps automatically adjust based on the phone’s orientation.

As Samsung’s Developer Conference is still in progress, we will have to wait and see if the manufacturer shows off a prototype of its foldable smartphone. At least when it’s officially released, Android developers should have apps ready to support the foldable device.

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