Google is adding Android support for foldable screens

Big day for developer events. As Samsung was onstage getting ready to talk about its upcoming foldable phone, Google spilled the beans a bit at its own Android Developer Summit. The company briefly detailed plans to bake support for folding phones into the mobile operating system.

Support for the nascent technology is going to be tough, given what’s expected to be a variety of different form factors, so Google’s been working with hardware partners. Its first, naturally, is Samsung. The two companies have been working closely on a device it plans to launch “early next year,” according to Google. That device is expected to debut moments from now on Samsung’s own stage.

Google is referring to the category as “Foldables.”

“You can think of the device as both a phone and a tablet,” Android VP of Engineering Dave Burke explained. “Broadly, there are two variants — two-screen devices and one-screen devices. When folded, it looks like a phone, fitting in your pocket or purse. The defining feature for this form factor is something we call screen continuity.”

Among the additions here is the ability to flag the app to respond to the screen as it folds and unfolds — the effect would likely be similar to the response of applications as handsets switch between portrait and landscape modes.

While Samsung’s is the most prominent, the company’s Foldable isn’t expected to be the first to market. That honor will likely go to Royole’s FlexPai device, though that handset has already been knocked for build quality ahead of launch. Whatever the case, Samsung’s certainly not going to be alone here, but it will almost certainly be a market leader.