Google Pixel Fold unfolded in the garden

If the Pixel Fold can copy one thing from the Galaxy Fold, let it be this

Google Pixel Fold unfolded in the garden

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

Fold pixels

The Pixel Fold is one of the best foldable phones out there, distilling the strengths of Google’s smartphone into a refreshingly different design. However, it is not without its problems just like any other smartphone. But there’s one significant software omission that’s gone under the radar, and we really hope the Pixel maker fixes it soon. After all, Samsung already offers it in its Z Fold range, so why shouldn’t Google?

Where is per-screen personalization?

Google’s debut foldable doesn’t actually let you visually customize each screen — that is, the outer and inner displays independently of each other. Changes made to one home screen are reflected on the home screen of the other displays.

More specifically, the largest internal display home screen is literally the first and second external home screen side by side. Check out the images in the gallery below for a better idea of ​​what we mean.

Google isn’t the only culprit here, as the vivo X Fold series does this too. But it’s arguably more egregious when the Pixel maker does this because it should lead by example as a platform holder. That said, Google at least extends the search bar to take up more of the foldable display and adds two app icon shortcuts. But that’s the only positive here.

Why is this a problem?

This one-size-fits-all approach is problematic because your use cases could and should, if you invested in a $1500+ foldable, differ greatly for each screen. After all, you’re looking at two drastically different display sizes here.

You may want your media apps and giant widgets front and center on the internal foldable display to take advantage of the increased screen real estate. On the other hand, you probably prefer to have quick access to messaging apps, mobile payment solutions, grocery and to-do list apps, and smaller widgets on your smartphone display.

Aside from different screen sizes driving different use cases, the ability to change each screen independently would also be useful purely for customization purposes. And more customization options are always a good thing, because they help make a device unique.

It’s not that I’m asking for the impossible: Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold series already offers home screen customization for each display, as you can see in the gallery above. Indeed, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 allows you to choose between independent screen customization or the possibility for the displays to reflect each other. Check the setting below.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 settings

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Samsung also offers tips on its website for customizing each screen. It advises users to think about activities on the go, apps with a lot of scrolling, and the Edge panel while customizing the smartphone’s external display. So she suggests keeping productivity, videos, and the taskbar in mind when setting up your internal collapsible home screen.

Want display customization on foldable devices?

30 votes

That’s not to say that Samsung has perfectly nailed the Fold-style software, however. We’d still like to see it adopt display controls for brightness, refresh rate, auto-rotate, and more. But it’s hard to argue that the company isn’t closer to that goal than Google at this point.

Plenty of room for Pixel Fold to improve

It’s clear then that the Pixel Fold is a good first attempt at a foldable phone from Google, finally bringing those unique Pixel features to the foldable form factor. But it’s also clear that this software has room for improvement on foldables, and that the company needs to learn from market pioneer Samsung when it comes to display customization.

So let’s hope Google brings per-display personalization to the Pixel Fold soon and folds it (heh) into AOSP as well, so that all Android manufacturers have access to this handy feature.

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