Taller is the new bigger. If you haven’t been paying attention to the specifics of the newest Android flagships, you’re not in tune with the latest trend: wider screens. Both the LG G6 and the Galaxy S8 have introduced larger aspect ratios for their displays, and the result is a phone that’s easier to hold and better to use.
But there’s a problem when it comes to apps. For years, developers have been optimizing their apps for 16:9 screens, whether they’re 5.2 inches or 5.7 inches. So, when they show up on 18:9 screens (or in Samsung’s case, 18.5:9), there’s going to be some truncating of the screen, meaning the experience will be lessened and you won’t be able to take advantage of the extra real estate.
So Google is urging developers to support the new sizes. As it writes in a post on its developer’s blog, “In order to take full advantage of the larger display formats on these devices, you should consider increasing your app's maximum supported aspect ratio. … We recommend that you design your app to support aspect ratios of 2.1 or higher.”
Now, the extra room isn’t all that noticeable (on the G6 even less so due to the persistent home button bar at the bottom), but if this is the new trend, developers are going to want to get on board quickly. And since Google has already built in support for a “maximum aspect ratio” in Android, many developers already include support in their apps. The ones who haven’t won’t have much work to do.
For a full explanation of how to support the new ratio, you can check out the Supporting Multiple Screens page in Android Developers’ API Guides.
Seeing the big picture: Google obviously wants Android apps to look their best on the latest phones, but what’s most interesting here is how quickly it is moving to get developers on board. As it stands, there are only two Android phones that support the new display size, and they’re at the upper-end of the market, which just so happens to be where Google's own Pixel is. It might be a bit of a leap to say that Google is preparing developers for the 18:9 Pixel 2, but it’s not hard to see that Google clearly recognizes the benefits of such a screen, and it looks like it could be more than just a passing fad.