Google on what makes a good foldable app and five Pixel Fold highlights

With the launch of the Pixel Fold (and Tablet), Google continues to push third-party developers to update their apps for foldable devices.

Google has three design principles for “making the most of the extra screen real estate on large-screen Android devices”:

  1. Two-pane layouts display content in two columns, showing you more content on the larger, open screen and letting you do more without extra taps or loss of context
  2. App continuity on foldable phones ensures that apps switch easily between folded and unfolded orientations
  3. Responsive layouts scale content and controls as screen size changes, such as when you’re using two apps in split-screen mode

The ability to “do more without extra taps or loss of context” is indeed the advantage of two-column designs, but window resizing remains important for split-screen mode. Meanwhile, continuity is key to ensuring that the screen-switching experience isn’t frustrating and resets states.

Google today highlighted “five apps that use these important design principles for foldable devices.” Two are proprietary applications:

When you open your foldable phone and use Google Keep, the app switches to a two-pane layout. You can easily see all your notes at a glance on the bigger screen, quickly scan the left pane to find the note you need, then edit it on the right. Keep also has the added benefit of a toggle that lets you expand the note list to full screen, giving you the ability to switch between the types of views you want.

Updated last year, Google Keep is great to use, even if there’s no full-screen note view. Rather, the note grid appears in the background and is somewhat distracting.

When your phone is closed, Google Weather shows the day’s forecast on a single screen, and when you open your phone, the screen adjusts to show more information in a two-pane layout. The left pane shows the 10-day forecast at a glance, and the right pane shows the hourly forecast, wind parameters, humidity levels, and other information for any day selected from the left pane. This lets you get the big picture of the weather of the week while also getting specific details, like when you’ll need an umbrella for your night out.

Google Weather, which debuts on the two new Pixel devices, is the other example.

On the third party front:

  • “SideChef, a cooking and grocery app with over 20,000 recipes, uses the largest screen on a foldable phone to show you step-by-step recipe instructions. When you cook, you often need to multitask, so SideChef automatically resizes itself when you use the app in split screen mode: on the right side of the screen you can see the recipe and on the left side you can set a timer to keep track of the remaining cooking time for a dish in the oven. Or you can use a calculator to convert the measurements. This split screen mode helps you stay in the flow and never lose sight of your next step in the recipe.
  • “LINE, a calling and texting app, switches seamlessly when you switch between using the foldable phone from closed to open. When opened, LINE adjusts to a two-pane layout, so you can see all your active chats on the left and your conversation details for any friend you select on the right. This layout makes it easier to keep track of all your conversations at once, and you can switch between conversations with fewer taps. If you juggle multiple conversations, you’ll be able to see new messages more easily and quickly switch to the chat you want to focus on.
  • “Deezer wanted to re-engineer its apps on foldable phones to create an optimal listening experience and help fans connect with music on a deeper level. With a new two-pane layout, music enthusiasts can access more than just on-screen player controls. Listeners can now see the artist’s album cover, sing along with the lyrics on screen, and spread the word about their favorite artist by sharing songs with family and friends in just one click.

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