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Foldable screens: What this means for web design

24/06/2020

With big brands like Samsung, Motorola and Huawei releasing smartphones with foldable touch screens, and Apple rumoured to have one on the way, could this be the start of a new way of thinking for web designers and developers? It is yet to be seen if this technology will really take off, but it is certainly something to keep a close eye on over the next few years. Depending on how the technology evolves, website owners could have the opportunity to utilise the split-screen in some interesting ways, but it also presents some challenges as well.

Let’s start with the new possibilities this type of screen could unlock. Having two halves of a screen to play with could allow one screen to be used for the main content and the other half for navigation or key call-to-actions, e.g. 'Checkout', 'Wishlist' etc. It would allow more space for functional controls to be more visible and user-friendly without reducing the main content area; for example, if you had an image carousel in the main content area showing product images, you could use the opposite screen to display all the thumbnails so the user can easily flick through the images. There are so many possible options to create with this emerging technology and we are only at the beginning of the journey.

Now for the potential challenges! With a new range of screen sizes hitting the market and differences between brands and models, it will create a wider range of commonly used screen sizes which web designers and website owners will need to be mindful of. Some open like a book where the screen goes across the whole space, some have a “seam” down the middle which isn’t part of the screen, and others open up like an old-style flip phone. Since we're only at the very beginning of this technology, there are sure to be many other variations too. Ensuring your website utilises this new range of screen sizes well will be a challenge, but one that the web industry will surely rise to.

Although this isn’t the biggest shakeup to happen in the web industry over the last few years, it is still something that may soon have to be taken into consideration, if this style of phone becomes popular. It will certainly be interesting to see how this technology evolves over the upcoming years, and finding out new ways to take advantage of this will be an exciting challenge.

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