Back in 2008 when Apple launched the App Store, it revolutionized the way we use mobile technology to interact with the world. Apps for all sorts of function and purpose exist today, accessible from the palm of our hands. Take a moment to appreciate just how amazing that is. Fast forward to today, we are on the cusp of another revolution in mobile technology: the foldable phone.
Driven by our desire to do more
App Stores changed the way we interacted with our phones and the world. Daily tasks that used to be only possible on a stationary computer have gained mobility. From ordering food to reserving a hotel room, all of that can be done purely from a pocketable device.
Our desire to do more on the go made smartphone screens bigger. However, phones can only get so big before they are no longer pocketable.
Companies created the tablet to solve this issue. For a while, this form factor was popular. You would even, and still do, see people taking these out on the go and taking pictures with them. Soon, we realized the larger device had trade-offs. Tablets still required you to carry an additional device and bag to carry them. Using them outdoors was a clunky experience and having a seamless workflow between your phone, tablet, and the computer was challenging.
Present Day: The first foldable phones
Fast forward to today, the first foldable phones have been introduced. The Huawei Mate X and Samsung Galaxy Fold are essentially a phone + tablet in one. Providing flexible between portability and function.
Early reviewers point out how enjoyable the Galaxy Fold is to use, despite its many problems and durability issues. The seamless switching from a small screen to a larger screen for more productivity and multi-tasking has real-world benefits. Want to compose an email and need to pull up a PDF to reference information? This would have been painful on a 5.8-inch screen. But on a 10-inch screen that can fold in half, that changes things.
Yes, we have issues with durability today but foldable screens will get better with time, just as they have been for 45 years (the first flexible display was developed in 1974 by Xerox). One day soon these screens will be as durable enough as smartphones are today.
Future: One device for all
With the merging of tablets and smartphones into one device, the next revolution will combine all three devices: the phone, the tablet, and the laptop. We are already seeing companies experiment with this. Samsung’s DeX and Microsoft Continuum are two examples of this that are already on the market. Google’s upcoming OS is also designed to unite their assets into one operating system, creating a single OS for all form factors.
In the future, we may use smartphones folded on the go, unfolded stationary on the bus or a cafe, and docked with a monitor and keyboard. Our entire life may revolve around a single device, from our work life to our personal life even more so than today.
Are you excited for this future?