Google Pixel Fold: the day after

Well, I’m surprised to say that I like the Pixel Fold way more than I thought. Less surprisingly, my wife is in love with it, as she has wanted a foldable smartphone ever since Samsung announced the first Fold. So it will be interesting to see where we end up.

In the meantime, I wanted to provide an update on my experiences with the Pixel Fold. I have nothing bad to say, again, surprising, but there’s an interesting learning curve, of course, more of a lane change, I guess, in going from a traditional smartphone to a foldable phone. It’s actually quite fascinating to me.

Anyway, as you might expect, I spent quite a bit of time updating and installing apps yesterday. When I upgrade to a new phone, I have a long list of apps that I install, so I organize the apps I use most often into a specific home screen layout. With the Pixel Fold, the switch is temporary, as I’ll be returning this unit even if my wife or I decide to use one because we’d like to trade in a phone to get a better deal. And so I installed a subset of the apps I use, basically the most used ones.

The first thing to understand here is how the Pixel Fold handles home screen layouts between the outer display, which is like a traditional smartphone, and the inner display, which is like a wider, squarer tablet. And I like what Google has done here: The external display’s home screen is replicated on the left side of the internal display, while whatever icons you put on the right side of the internal display are only found there. Meanwhile, the first four icons docked at the bottom are also replicated on the internal display, but there are also two other icons, on the right, that appear on the internal display dock.

This is an excellent system as it replicates the way I like to work, with the most used apps more readily available and then a number of secondary apps (video apps plus a weather widget) only available on the display where I would like to access them. That’s exactly right.

Rotating the internal display between landscape and portrait orientation works just like it does on the Pixel Tablet, in that it does an amazing job of handling that transition, and everything on the screen somehow rearranges itself correctly. But it’s even better on the Pixel Fold because this device is almost square. So you don’t get that weird long and tall effect in portrait mode like you do on the tablet.

In fact, one thing I’ve found is that it’s slightly better to hold the device in portrait orientation when reading apps like the Kindle. It’s a subtle thing, but it’s just narrower enough, if you will, to feel and feel more natural.

Kinde app in portrait mode
Kinde app in portrait mode
Kinde app in landscape mode
Kinde app in landscape mode

One potential problem for Pixel Fold users is that you’ll be more likely to use apps designed specifically for the phone than the Pixel Tablet. I used Instagram’s example in my review of that device because that app hasn’t been customized to work naturally on a large screen device and only offers a vertical phone-style display. On the Pixel Tablet, it looks ridiculous, although you can at least open another app side-by-side if you like. On Pixel Fold, it looks less ridiculous because it also takes up 50 percent of the internal display. You can move it around and use it alongside another app like you do on your tablet, but it’s more likely that most people will just use this app exclusively on the more traditional external screen. That’s not an option on the tablet, of course.

Among the apps I use most often on a phone, there’s a mix of those that can handle the larger display and those that can’t. Google apps like Gmail and Google Photos are of course properly customized and work beautifully on the Fold’s internal display. So are apps like Audible, Kindle, New York Times, Washington Post, Pocket and Sonos.

But apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Duolingo, Medium, and more are just phone apps. Some, like Instagram, take up 50 percent of the width. Some, like Facebook and Medium, curiously stretch to about 65 percent of the display width for some reason. It’s kind of a hit or miss.

And you know what? None of this bothers me. It’s a curiosity, of course. And I’ll be interested to see which apps evolve over time to better handle large-screen devices like the Pixel Fold. But ultimately, the Fold is a phone. And most of the time, I suspect, I and other users will just use it like a phone – that is, with the device open and via the small external display. We will open it when needed: for reading, watching videos, playing games, and so on. It’s like a superpower that you can exercise whenever you want.

I also like how system features, like the notification shade, Settings, and the All Apps view, which appears as a floating tile on the home screen (like on the Pixel Tablet), have been scaled up for the larger display and the floating taskbar you can access for multitasking purposes is intuitive and obvious. Google has done a really great job adapting Android for foldable devices like the Pixel Fold, but also for tablets, Chromebooks, and other large screen form factors. It all looks very natural.

Sooner. But I’m loving this thing.

#Google #Pixel #Fold #day
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