After many years of almost no significant breakthroughs, 2019 and 2020 have witnessed many new types of smartphones and laptops thanks to breakthroughs in display technology. In early 2019, both Samsung and Huawei lifted the foldable OLED smartphone screen, allowing “transformation” from small screen smartphone designs to large screen tablets. In early 2020, laptop manufacturers took advantage of CES to launch a series of laptops with folding screens, replacing the entire screen space and previous keyboards with a large OLED screen.
A new era of technology is gradually opening up ahead. But like previous design revolutions, the fate of folding smartphones and laptops will not belong to hardware manufacturers.
To make full use of the folding screen, Samsung needs the support of developers.
In contrast, the most vital role belongs to software owners like Google and Microsoft. After the Galaxy Fold officially hit shelves in November 2019, many reviews have pointed to software weaknesses. Wired says: “Many applications on small screens when folded automatically launch the large screen (when opened), but do not work in the opposite direction. For example, if you do not have enough room to use the screen big picture on the subway and you want to close it to continue using it, you’ll have to activate the app again. ”
Another weakness on Fold is the support of applications. In the review, Tech Radar stated, “The Galaxy Fold’s 7.3-inch square screen can make apps a bit weird … There are a few apps that don’t fit this ratio. Pokemon Go displays as expected when opening a map and capturing pokemon, the menu phenomenon is like zooming in, reducing the amount of information displayed on the screen, forcing users to scroll more and also reducing the sharpness. ” .
With Mate X, despite being equipped with Huawei’s own version of Android, absolutely without Google services, software problems still occur. Within an hour of hands-on, Digital Trends correspondent noted that Mate X “still had a disturbance, even a single hangup”.
Windows is inherently optimized for only one monitor.
On Windows laptops, the problem is more serious. The Verge Magazine said that “dual-screen and fold-screen laptops desperately need Windows 10X”. Testing Windows 10 on prototypes of Dell, Lenovo and Intel showed a “poor and awkward” experience. Similarly, Engadget considered the demo of Intel’s Horseshoe Bend as “limited packaging”, again citing the absence of Windows 10X as the main cause.
Obviously, these technology sites have also pointed to the solution that manufacturers of folding screens need: a completely new version of Windows. Launched on the Surface Neo model device at last year’s Microsoft event, Windows 10X offers solutions for folding screens: the application automatically divides into 2 windows, the drag-and-drop feature easily becomes two half when multitasking, the bottom half automatically displays the virtual keyboard when typing v … v …
On a folding smartphone, it’s not hard to realize that the most important requirement right now is the ability to seamlessly switch from a small screen to a large screen, similar to what Samsung has done with its pre-installed applications. Galaxy Fold. But the responsibility is not with Samsung or individual developers but Google, who controls Android. Remember when Android manufacturers followed Apple’s notch design, Google created a mechanism that allowed apps to support this type of screen easily. Now, Google needs to create a graphical conversion and scaling mechanism for foldable so that developers can easily implement on their applications.
As history has demonstrated, poor software can kill the appeal of hardware.
History has many times witnessed the types of hardware failures due to software. Microsoft and Google understand this better than anyone. With Windows XP and Windows 7, Microsoft used to be ahead of the tablet business, but it failed to get to the front of the iPad because older versions of Windows only supported mouse and keys. With Windows 8, Microsoft shifted its focus to touch only to receiving countless criticisms from traditional PC users. As a result, this version became a streak in Windows history, and by Windows 10, the software giant was forced to develop two separate tablet and desktop modes.
And Google’s Android is still unable to knock the iPad out of the market leader tablet. Just like what is happening on foldable screens, Android application developers have not put enough effort to optimize the interface for the tablet’s large size. Google itself in recent years has raised the flag of surrender when it stops making tablets on both Android and Chrome OS. Or, in the field of smartwatch, Google’s Android Wear and Tizen of Samsung are still nearly crushed by Apple Watch because they do not understand users: Android Wear and Samsung manufacturers are moving in the direction of cramming features into copper. However, Apple optimizes the “one touch” experience for small screens.
Entering the foldable era, Google and Microsoft are holding in the hands of devices that Apple has yet to reach. But a few months or even a few years of leadership would be meaningless if Google and Microsoft were unable to create really user-friendly and useful experiences. Not Samsung, Huawei, Intel or Lenovo, the future of new hardware will always be in the hands of software owners.