Android is ready to fold

Keynote presentation of folding Samsung phone from DevOps event

There's a new category of smartphones on the horizon called 'foldables' and while manufacturers are racing to unveil them, what they really need is Android to fold.

And, according to Google, that's exactly what it has done. The tech giant is hosting 'Foldables session' at its Dev Summit this week as it expects to see Foldables coming from several Android manufacturers, including the one most recently unveiled at Samsung's developer's event in San Fransico.

"We're optimising Android for this new form factor," said Stephanie Cuthbertson, director of product management. "And, making changes to help developers everywhere take advantage of the possibilities this creates for amazing new experiences, new ways to engage and delight your users."

A concept of folding Android OS - courtesy of Android

According to Cuthbertson, there are two variants to foldables; two-screen devices and one-screen devices. When folded, they look like phones, fitting in your pocket or purse, but when unfolded, their defining feature is what Android calls "screen continuity".

As an example, open a document with the folded smaller screen and later you can sit down and unfold the device to get a larger tablet-sized screen more as you would sitting at a desk. As you unfold, the app seamlessly transfers to the bigger screen without missing a beat.

An Android-based folding phone could be a significant milestone for those that work remotely. Rather than take a laptop everywhere - or even a tablet - and instead be able to use all your business apps, or tools from a device pulled out of your pocket that then unfolds could be a real game-changer.

And according to Google, this is something it has thought about as early as Android 1.6. Together with its partners, it has contemplated different screen sizes and densities, enabling the platform to power a broad category of form factors and new experiences like Android TV, Android Auto, Wear OS and even Android apps on Chromebooks.

Despite the recent events unveiling foldable phones, we can't expect too many until next year. But when they're ready to go, they should have a flexible operating system ready to go.

Image: Google Developers Blog.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognise him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.