I think there is probably a technical dependency involved, but I will ask the question from a user experience perspective.

Many mobile devices run apps that have a default orientation (i.e. landscape or portrait), and depending on the way the person is holding the device the app might also be displayed in the 'up' or 'down' position in landscape view (this is not as much of an issue in portrait view as there is usually an orientation that is accepted to be correct.

I have noticed that when multiple apps are running on a mobile device, sometimes you can experience situations where you are holding the device in one orientation in landscape view, and then when you close that app or switch to another one you have to rotate the device so that it is in the right orientation.

So there are a number of factors at play in determining the orientation of the display:

  • General settings on the hardware device (e.g. allow auto-rotate)
  • General settings on the software application (e.g. allow auto-rotate)
  • The starting position in which the person is holding the device

I assume that from a user's perspective the display should always be with respect to how the person is holding the device, but given hardware and software configurations this may not always be the case.

Hence, is there some standard or guideline in managing the orientation of the device, especially when the user is switching between different apps to allow an optimal user experience?

  • Do you know if this is possible? I don't there's any way for apps to know about this event. What are examples of apps handling this event? – moot Nov 14 '18 at 11:24
  • @moot I believe that this is detected in the hardware but there are both hardware and software settings that allow the apps to handle these types of events. But let's say that this is definitely possible, what would your answer be? – Michael Lai Nov 14 '18 at 13:29
  • Yeah apps can check the orientation and get orientation change events but they can't check what orientation other apps are in. Apps would have to communicate on their own. Trying to handle errors between apps doesn't work logically or functionally. If an app is disoriented, it doesn't know it or it wouldn't be disoriented so it can't report its disorientation to the OS or other apps. – moot Nov 14 '18 at 18:30
  • @moot they don't need to check what orientation other apps are in, but they should be aware of the current orientation and whether it matches with their previous orientation right? – Michael Lai Nov 14 '18 at 23:17
  • I'm not following..."matches with their previous orientation" who is they? What does previous orientation mean? Apps can be locked in one orientation and ignore orientation changes. Apps that do change orientation aren't changing orientation themselves, The OS rotates everything. The app just changes its layout to match the new dimensions. So apps would have to keep track of orientation changes or states themselves. – moot Nov 15 '18 at 1:06

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