What do the new folding/palm/flip phones mean for businesses with apps and websites?

First FlexPai by Royole Corp, then Samsung's announcement of its folding Galaxy X smartphone, followed by rumours of similar devices from Motorola, LG, Huawei and Apple in 2019.

It seems that the main goal for manufacturers is to design devices which offer a smaller form but with the benefit of a large screen. No doubt users and app owners will find new ways to take advantage of the technology advances.


  • Multitasking - the additional screen space could allow multiple apps to be used simultaneously. This would be perfect for "second screen" apps such as live voting on The X-Factor whilst reading your news feed. Samsung confirmed the Galaxy X will support three apps running in parallel.
  • Larger keyboards - will provide more space for the app user interface (UI) and allow users to enter data and create content more easily.

Improved productivity - The extra screen space will enable users to be more productive and use devices more efficiently.

  • Multiple screens - could mean that apps can segment and highlight key pieces of app information, such as notifications and live data across the UI.
  • Desktop/laptop quality apps - with the increased opportunity of the device, users will drive the demand for more feature-packed apps. Could this mean the end of fully-functioning computers at home?


  • Hardware announcements - it will be important to monitor the market over the next 12 months to understand the variety of devices and the opportunities they provide.

Platform announcements - for novel interfaces to be well supported, it's unlikely app owners will invest until support is provided directly by the operating system. Google showed its support for these future ideas by supporting Samsung at their recent announcement.

  • Device specific - each foldable device is likely to be different and their uptake will determine which features are worth supporting from an app perspective. App owners will need to evaluate the options and balance the ROI on a device-by-device basis.

Responsive design - smartphones/tablets come in a wide variety of sizes, resolutions and aspect ratios, and best practices have been to design app interfaces to resize to scale to each devices screen. Ensuring this will give an app the best opportunity for the unknowns on the horizon.


  • Current hardware - the FlexPai is already available in limited markets, but the Galaxy X is expected to be demonstrated at CES over the New Year period or at Mobile World Conference (MWC) in February, when we would also expect other manufacturers to announce their own devices.
  • Operating system releases - Apple and Google generally only release major updates in Q3, so we wouldn't expect large scale adoption to happen until then. However...
  • Proprietary support - some device manufacturers could develop bespoke software development kits, to allow app owners to harness device-specific hardware features well before they are adopted by the operating systems. Samsung specifically announced the device at its technical event to drive adoption by app developers.
  • Scalable - most platforms already support flexible screen sizes and therefore device support may be possible from the outset. Preparation will be essential.

App owners should reach out to their developers or specialist app agencies to offer advice and guidance on how they can prepare apps and websites to take full advantage of this technological evolution.

For more information visit www.thedistance.co.uk