How to Build Apps for Foldable Devices: New Business Possibilities in 2021
Experts believe that in the upcoming years foldable devices will push modern smartphones, tablets and even laptops out of the game.
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 it’s worth building apps for foldables
- How 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?
Foldable devices have either a fold in the display or a hinge that separates two portions (typically halves) of the display. Devices with a hinge might have the ability to span content behind the hinge; for example, the Microsoft Surface Duo in its spanned mode.
The term foldable devices go 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 devices is Samsung Galaxy Fold, which is now available for purchase. However, the technology is predicted to become more popular among manufacturers of smartphones and tablets.
In fact, according to Statista, 55 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
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 providing users with an immersive experience thanks to the availability of a large screen. This is possible thanks to the foldable technology that turns two screens into a single and big one.
- Small size – today, users need to make a choice 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 estate, 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 to fit all the needed features. With foldable devices, it will be possible to create multi-screen applications that will provide users with a lot of 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.
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Challenges of Building Apps for Foldables
You need to 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 might 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 smartphones, otherwise, your app is doomed.
Foldable solutions provide a bigger number of 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 of your multi-window app.
Higher Development Time and Cost
If you decide to build an app for foldables 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 circumvent 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
Two Screen States
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 available.
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 these states. You will need to decide what happens after a user unfolds the device and which features you will show on which screen.
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 with your solution using both hands. Thus, you will need to adjust the placement of user interface elements accordingly.
Multi Window 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
In most cases, you will see the companies divide the process into two stages: discovery and development.
1. Discovery Stage
The discovery stage is necessary for the future success of your foldable application, and it allows to save time and money on reworkings in the future.
If you work with the IT vendor, it will use the discovery stage to identify your needs, technical requirements, and how the team will address the development process.
Key deliverables of the discovery stage include:
- 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 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 dedicated to the coding and creation of your application. At this stage, you will need to define the whole set of future tasks, create specifications for your project, and set a timeline for implementation.
Usually, development is divided into a few phases:
- Coding – the creation of 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 allows making sure that functionality was 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. Going development and support will help it stay afloat, surprise users with new features, and timely bug fixing.
Building Apps for Foldables: Step-by-Step Guide
Below is the list of 7 steps to the development of an app for foldables.
1. Market Research & Competition Analysis
Developing an app is impossible without knowing the market state and your competition. 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, the way 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 are going to develop. Usually, there are a few options that you can choose from:
- In-app purchases
- Freemium model
After you are finished 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.
You can learn how to make money with a free app in our article explaining all the possible strategies and monetization models:
|How do Free Apps Make Money? [Best Strategies for 2021]|
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
An exhaustive guide prepared by our team will help you explore all the aspects of finding an app development vendor:
|Outsource App Development in 2021: How to Make It Work|
5. Custom UX/UI for Foldable App
Create the design of your application taking into consideration all the specifics of developing apps for foldable devices. The app should be feature-rich and user-friendly while taking 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 developed in such a way that you will be able to add new features, improve performance, and add additional resources to your app without a problem.
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 the necessary stage if you don’t want all the efforts to go in vain.
A comprensative 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
However, you don’t need to wait for that future. There are already devices will foldable screens and you can develop an app working on them today.
Now that you know how to create an app for foldables, it’s time to apply the gained knowledge to practice.