At this year’s Google I/O conference, Google said it was working with developers and manufacturers to finally bid Android apps are the tablet-optimized versions you deserve. No more optimized and wonky UI leaving a lot of wasted space, exploding phone apps, or things directly broken and unpleasant to use on your Android tablet.
Which is great, I think everyone would agree that Android tablets need more love from Google. But will this news change anyone’s opinions about Android tablet apps at this point? Or changed your mind about the general state of Android tablets in general?
Android tablets: a bumpy ride
Writing about the history of Android tablets will be a story and a half on its own, but everyone can agree that it’s always been strange, especially compared to the huge success of the Apple iPad line over the past decade.
In the beginning, Android tablets were just big phones. Samsung got on board early with Android 2.2 on a large 7-inch tablet in 2010, and in case you’ve forgotten how Android Froyo works back in the day, that was a pretty bad idea. The user interface was clearly not designed for such large screens and TouchWiz Is that true Things didn’t help. Google’s hand-raising approach got a rough start for tablets.
They’ve tried to clean things up with Honeycomb, a version of Android designed specifically for tablets, and even got involved with a semi-successful batch of tablets with the Nexus 7. And things are starting to get better, but Google still can’t really get Android developers on board compared to How do they support Android phones. The apps still aren’t great, and Google has given up on trying to rectify the situation and left Samsung to find out. Samsung has done a good job, but there is still a lot that can be done, especially when some of the most popular Android tablets are Kindle Fire tabs that don’t even have a Play Store.
The nature of Android tablets has ranged from “not great” to “garbage fires” over the years, but Google says it’s ready to fix it this time. They’re building and improving many of their apps to make better use of devices with larger screens, building on Android 12L’s foldable strategy first. They’re working with partners like Canva and TikTok to create better apps for tablets, and they’re tuning the Play Store to put these tablet-friendly apps in your face. But at the end of the day, does that matter?
This is long overdue, but high-end Android tablets are not in a good place now. Samsung can afford to keep its own unique with the S-Pen as a competitive alternative to the iPad, but numbers show every year that Apple is still running away from the tablet market. And I mean it literally: Apple takes over 50% of the market, with Samsung floating 25% and everyone else is fighting over the last quarter of the pie. It shows in the quality of the apps available on these platforms as well, with iPad apps easily available, supported, and higher quality than their Android counterparts.
Android tablets have carved their little niche as great big screen devices for typing stuff, watching media, and playing some games. This renewed focus on getting better apps for tablets seems too late, especially when energy can be spent making Android foldable apps a better experience. Google hasn’t lost this market to Apple, and they need to take advantage of that.