U-NEXT witnesses 1.5X Growth in Tablet Installations by Increasing Support for Large Screens

The Android team reports

U-NEXT, one of the largest domestic streaming and digital content services in Japan, is always looking for ways to connect its users to their favorite content. With over 1,200,000 titles, U-NEXT hosts an extensive library of movies, anime, live streams, manga, magazines, and e-books within a single application.

To improve the user experience (UX), U-NEXT has recently turned to the growing market of large screens and foldables, which include the likes of Android tablets and Chromebooks. The company’s engineers have focused on what makes these devices special to create a better way of viewing content. For example, better multi-window support on larger screens can offer a more visually rich UX, while an improved foldable UX may better mimic the experience readers get with a traditional paperback.

However, the U-NEXT app had several bugs when used on these larger and foldable devices, which led to the platform optimizing its UX overhaul and better support for these formats in two phases. The first step was to remove any existing bugs, followed by adding features that its large-screen users would benefit from the most.

Wiping Off the Bugs

To fix the visibility issue for critical in-app navigation buttons, U-NEXT engineers used the ConstraintLayout to set constraint barriers. These barriers prevented UI elements from being pushed off-screen while ensuring that they are always oriented correctly, irrespective of the screen size.

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U-NEXT’s application also didn’t always display correctly on large screens, with headers occupying the most on-screen space, making video content more challenging to navigate. The company’s team resolved this by restricting the size of header images on larger screens, giving the list more space.

When users viewed books on the U-NEXT application, they could tap the screen to reveal a horizontal scrollbar that lets them quickly navigate their place in the text. However, this wasn’t the case for the same on Chromebooks, where the scrollbar wouldn’t appear on the page. This bug came down to how U-NEXT managed the visibility of the controller when SystemUiVisibility changes on Chromebooks.

Lastly, U-NEXT had to handle video disruptions when users folded their devices during viewing, leading to momentary cutouts. The team changed the app to manually handle these configuration changes. The app used onConfigurationChanged() to override the change and prevent the UI elements from automatically being deleted and recreated.

Making the Most of More Form Factors

As part of its feature overhaul, U-NEXT replaced the traditional navigation bar with a navigation rail, which helps improve the user experience significantly. The navigation rail overcomes the reachability issue associated with the traditional horizontal navigation bar, making it much easier to reach the buttons in the middle.

U-NEXT then enhanced support for two-page spreads when users viewed any e-book content on foldables. Furthermore, the company ensured users could always see a double-page spread whether in a portrait or landscape orientation, even when the device was slightly folded.

The U-NEXT team also added support for Google Play in-app billing on large screens and optimized picture-in-picture viewing to improve the user experience.

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Android Support Eases Optimization Process

The U-NEXT team found optimizing its app for large screens and foldable devices relatively easy, thanks to Android’s developer resources. The process of enriching content viewing experiences across devices became remarkably easier, minimizing time and effort.

Since updating the U-NEXT app to better support large screens, tablet installations have increased by 1.5X. More users are watching videos on large screen devices, with watch time up by over 10%. Moving ahead, the company plans to expand its app’s large-screen capabilities further by introducing list detail view, enhancing mouse and keyboard compatibility, adding greater support for tabletop mode, and implementing drag-and-drop features to make content sharing easier.

U-NEXT looks forward to seeing Android add more resources to its large and expanding list of documentation, including the recently updated Material 3 library, which further helps support the growing number of users with large screen and foldable devices.

Start Optimizing for Large Screens Today

More people are using large screens, foldables, and other up-and-coming form factors. Learn how you can better support your users on these devices with examples from Android’s Large Screen Gallery.

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