Surface Duo 2020Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

What you need to know

  • A Google I/O session discusses developing apps for folding devices, such as the Surface Duo.
  • Google has several tools to simplify the process of developing apps for folding devices.
  • These tools work with hinged devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and folding devices such as the Surface Duo.

Foldable devices are a growing category, both in terms of how many devices are available and how much people are interested in them. Earlier this week, we reported on a survey that states 50% of Americans are interested in foldable phones. Google appears to agree that foldables are on the rise, as a session during Google I/O discusses what's new in foldables, tablets, and large screens.

While foldable hardware, such as the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and foldable displays make the headlines, software also plays a major role in the foldable experience. The new video by Android Developers, which is an on-demand version of the Google I/O session, discusses how apps and experiences can take advantage of folding screens and large displays.

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The video focuses on large screens and tablets as well, but a significant portion of the video discusses making apps and experiences for folding devices.

Google saw a 10 times increase in split-screen or multi-window mode while people use a foldable device. As a result, developers need to make apps work well with folding screens, including working with drag and drop, scaling well, and working with other apps.

As an example, the Disney Plus app has been optimized to work with devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Not only can it work in folded or unfolded modes, the app can scale to the tabletop mode of the folding device, only showing content on the top of the screen that's angled for easy viewing. That's just one example of how developers can accommodate folding devices.

Google has several tools to make it easier to optimize apps for folding screens:

  • SlidingPanelLayout 1.2.0 (places content side-by-side, adapts to display features like folds/hinges)
  • Max Width Additions (prevents stretched UIs)
  • Navigation Rail (easier reach with better ergonomics)
  • WindowsManger Jetpack library (supports new form factors and is in alpha)
  • ConstraintLayout 2.1 (animates automatically to the fold position)
  • WindowsMetrics (helps with devices with multiple displays or multi-window scenarios)

WindowsManager Jetpack helps develop apps for devices with folds or hinges, such as the Surface Duo.