Galaxy Z Fold 2 in depth: Flex Mode, App Continuity, and multitasking

Along with hardware improvements, Samsung enhanced the software functionality of the Z Fold 2 to enhance productivity. In this article, we take a closer look at ways to get work done on the go.

Galaxy Z Fold 2 review: First impression? Huge improvement

As we continue to explore the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and develop our in-depth review, there is a lot to unpack so we are helping potential buyers make informed decisions by diving deep into various elements. There are unique software experiences provided on the Z Fold 2, with some specific steps to use the various modes and limitations you should be aware of.

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The outside cover display has been increased to 6.2 inches, so it's much more usable by itself, while the inside main display also saw significant improvements with the removal of the large sensor/camera assembly and a reduction in the bezels. The main display now measures 7.6 inches and the software enhancements covered in this article focus on ways to best use both of these displays to help you get work done.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 first look: Improved hinge, bigger displays, and software enhancements

Flex Mode

Thanks to the new quad CAM system used in the Hideaway Hinge of the Z Fold 2 you can now open up the phone and prop open the top to use with apps in unique ways. The new hinge system lets you use free-standing Flex Mode in a typical range from 35 to 155 degrees, measured from closed on the Main Display to open back to the left.

Starting with the cover screen, most of the time you will likely use this as a typical smartphone and with 6.2 inches it functions much better than the first generation Galaxy Fold. It's pretty narrow compared to other smartphones, but very usable with most apps. However, you may also wish to view media on the device with the Flex Mode propping the display up. Yes, that means there is no need for a kickstand case with the Z Fold 2.

Simply start up your application, for example, Netflix, and then prop up the top/left of the Z Fold 2 to a comfortable viewing angle. I find an angle of about 50 to 60 degrees to be just about perfect for watching media content. Various apps have ways to zoom the content to fill more of your display. A two-finger pinch out on Netflix works well with the Z Fold 2 cover screen.

Once you open the cover screen up to about 90 degrees, content switches from the cover screen to the inside main screen. You can then close the display nearly all the way and still see content on the main screen, but there is no practical use for this angle. You are most likely to prop the cover screen up at 100 to about 155 degrees to use apps on the main screen.

Most of the time, one is likely to use the App Pair multi-tasking option to view two apps in an orientation so that one app is on the top and one on the bottom, lengthwise. If you want to watch media on the upper part of the display then you can interact with another app on the bottom of the display. If text entry is necessary to use one of the apps in Flex Mode, then things change dynamically as the entire bottom of the display turns into a large keyboard for efficient text entry. Once you are done entering text, the second app reappears for your use. If you only have one app open in Flex Mode, the keyboard also appears on the bottom half of the display.

flex-mode-keyboard.jpg

Select apps are optimized for Flex Mode. For example, when you carry on a Google Duo video call, the person you are calling appears on the "upper" display with your own image on a floating thumbnail. You can drag your own thumbnail all around the upper display, too. Google Duo call controls, including AR emoji, portrait, wide-angle, low light, and more appear on the "bottom" display.

While I continue to explore use cases for Flex Mode, at this time the primary way I am using it is for video playback on the "upper" display or cover screen and Google Duo calls. For multitasking, I prefer side-by-side app use rather than top-and-bottom app use.

p>Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2: $1,999 for a device that has made progress, but not enough

Advanced camera modes

While media use is nice in Flex Mode, the real power of this capability may be for enhanced camera experiences. With the Z Flip 2 closed, launching the camera opens up the viewfinder and all controls on the cover screen. Angle the cover screen up, I typically go to about 75 degrees, and then you can take selfies or capture content from the 10MP cover camera without holding the phone. This is a good way to capture a group of people with this camera using this 10MP shooter. However, there are even better options on the Z Fold 2.

Launch the camera with the Z Fold 2 fully open and then initiate a folding action. Bringing the cover screen up about 35 degrees switches the camera app into Capture View Mode. With the 10MP main screen hole-punch camera selected the viewfinder appears on the upper part of the display with all controls positioned on the lower part of the display. You can tap the small double arrow icon to flip to a full-screen viewfinder experience even with the display in Flex Mode.

In addition to the camera controls on the right half of the lower display, thumbnails of up to five previous captures can be viewed on the left half of the lower display. One thumbnail appears at a time, but you can swipe through content. This can help you capture the perfect shot as you check previous captures. Video content even plays live in the thumbnail.

flex-mode-camera-mode.jpg

Tap to flip to the three rear cameras to realize the full power of Flex Mode for camera usage. The interface looks the same with the viewfinder on top and controls/thumbnails on the bottom, but you can use the three high-performance cameras to capture content. You can even jump around your phone to the other side and be a part of the picture or video with a timer set or even raise your hand to start a timer.

If you want to set your Z Fold 2 down on a stable surface and record video content without moving your phone around, auto-framing is an option. With this option enabled, the software shifts the view to stay centered and in focus, going wider or closing in depending on how many people are in view. When there's only one person in the video, the software can follow their motion to keep the video centered.

Note the small split square icon in the upper left of the viewfinder. Tap this icon to turn on Dual Preview and fully open up the Z Fold 2. With this option enabled, your cover screen turns into a secondary viewfinder so that your subject can see themselves and help you capture the perfect content that pleases you and the subject. This is an innovative way to help you capture perfectly framed content.

z-fold-2-rear-cam-selfie.jpg

Although I am not much of a selfie photographer, using the high-quality rear cameras to capture selfies results in much better results than with the default front-facing camera. Launch the camera with the cover screen closed. In the upper right above the viewfinder tap the Selfie icon. A pop-up appears that directs you to open the Z Fold 2 up all of the way. After unfolding it then you will see the viewfinder and camera controls appear on the cover screen with all of the options for the three rear cameras available at your fingertips. This mode is a bit different than Dual Preview because the controls are available on the cover screen and the main screen remains off.

App Continuity

The increased size of the cover screen is a welcome addition to the Z Fold 2, but the real power of the device is the massive 7.6-inch main screen. You can open up apps on the cover screen, including App Pairs from the Edge tool, and use them to your heart's delight. Then simply open up the Z Fold 2 to have the app(s) you were using on the cover screen appear on the main screen in all their glory with a high refresh rate Super AMOLED display.

App Continuity lets you continue working with the apps you had open on the cover screen to continue a high level of productivity. If you have a couple apps open at once, a quick tap or two on the center menu lets you rearrange the apps, too.

Now there may also be specific apps you want to continue using when you close the Z Fold 2, and Samsung provides you with this two-way App Continuity option. It's a bit hidden in the settings to work from the main screen to the cover screen so take these steps:

  1. Open up Settings
  2. Tap on the word Display
  3. Scroll up until you see the option: Continue apps on the cover screen and tap this phrase
  4. Toggle on the apps you wish to appear on the cover screen that you are using on the main screen when you close the Z Fold 2

As you will see in your list of apps, some are unavailable to be used in this matter. These apps may need to be updated by developers to support this functionality.

Also: Galaxy Z Fold 2 vs LG V60: Dual screen experiences that boost productivity

Multi-tasking and App Pair

Last week, I wrote about several specific examples of using apps on the Z Fold 2 in comparison to the LG V60 and its Dual Screen cover. Let's take a closer look at multi-tasking on the Z Fold 2 and how it functions in daily use.

As you go about tapping on an app shortcut and using apps on the main screen you may find the desire to open up multiple apps at once. Swipe up and hold from the left or right side of the display to view your recently used apps. Tap the icon of the app and choose "Open in split-screen view." The app will open and appear on one side or top/bottom of the main screen. The other side of the main screen will continue to show the recently used apps. Tap one of those apps to view two apps at once on the main screen.

If you now tap the three dots in the center of the display, options to reorient the two apps one on top of the other, switch sides between the two apps or create an App Pair will appear. If you already have the two apps one on top of the other then the icon will show that you can arrange them side-by-side.

If you want to use a third app on the main screen, swipe in to open the Edge widget. Tap and hold on a recent app and drag it over away from the Edge widget. You can drop this app on top of either one to replace that app or drop it over on the upper or lower part of the right side to then open this third app on the main screen. Each app can be used independently in this configuration.

One other option available when you drag an app icon over from the Edge widget is to open up the app in Pop-Up View mode. When an app is being used in Pop-Up View mode it can be dragged around the display and used on top of other apps. Tap the line at the top of this popped up app to place it into split-view mode, adjust the transparency of the app, expand to full screen, minimize to a single app icon, or close the app. Samsung allows you the ability to open up three apps at once and up to five apps in Pop-Up View mode. There is limited practical use to having this many apps open in Pop-Up View, but you can explore.

I highly recommend you take the time to setup App Pairs for two and three apps that you use regularly. Having these App Pairs setup on the Edge widget is a major timesaver and has greatly increased my productivity with the Z Fold 2. With the ample RAM and processor, the experience flies on the Z Fold 2.

Drag and drop

Another new capability found on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is drag and drop. This functionality is specific to certain applications. At this time, Samsung native apps, Microsoft apps, and Google apps support this capability. These apps include:

  • Gallery
  • Samsung Internet
  • Messages
  • My Files
  • Samsung Notes
  • Microsoft Office
  • OneDrive
  • Outlook
  • Gmail
  • Chrome
  • Google Maps
  • Whatsapp

Images, tables, hyperlinks, selected text, and other content can be dragged between these supported apps. I've created several App Pairs for these apps that support drag and drop so am excited to see how my efficiency increases with this new capability on a phone.

My family regularly uses Telegram and Facebook Messenger so I hope these apps receive drag and drop support, too. I would also like to see support for Google Keep and OneNote. What apps would you like to see support drag and drop on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2?