In the ongoing effort to make apps better on Android, Google has released another new guide for the developers who may be looking for guidance on just how to build a great tablet-oriented app. The piece has some fairly detailed information, including how much to adjust padding of UI elements and how to target different screen sizes and resolutions. There is also more broad guidance on how to make the most of larger screen real-estate.



An example of how to rearrange UI panes when switching orientations.

One thing that becomes clear as you read this advice is that the company doesn't want everyone developing for the Nexus 7 and ignoring other form factors. Android, of course, is designed to scale dynamically to different sizes, resolutions, and orientations. Up until this point, though, the default use-case has been a roughly 16:9 tablet in landscape orientation. Now, the most popular slate position is portrait. What Google wants, however, is for designers to consider both. Writing for just one and ignoring the rest is now officially not best practice.

If you're a developer and you're looking into making a tablet UI for your app, head to the source link below. Also, keep an eye on the +Android Developers Google+ page, as the group will be sharing slate-specific tips all this week, including special editions of several developer-oriented shows and case studies. A wealth of information is at your fingertips!

Source: Tablet App Quality Checklist via Android Developers Blog

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    ADC3, ADC3, ADC3!

    • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

      This is exactly what we need ;-)

  • Chris Guanche

    It would've been nice if they released this alongside ICS last year, but I'm glad it's finally happening.

    • warcaster

      Actually, it would've been nice to release it with Honeycomb. There wasn't even a SDK for Honeycomb until like a day before Xoom's launch. How the hell do you expect developers to make apps for tablets when you won't even give them a SDK in time? In contrast...the iPad had 2000 optimized apps in day one of its launch, because Apple released the SDK two months earlier, when they announced the iPad.

      Anyway, what's done it's done, and they've wasted almost 2 years to take over the market before Windows 8 got here, and they didn't. But what pisses me off most is that they are still making a ton of mistakes. They should make it clear to developers that they want TABLET APPS, and that they are willing to give them better visibility in the app store if they make their apps tablet optimized. It's the only way to get developers to give a damn about Android tablets.

      Instead, so far Google has mostly pretended developers don't need to create "tablet optimized" apps. Well, with that kind of attitude, how can you expect a lot of tablet apps on the market, when even Google themselves say they are not necessary, even though they really are.

      • marcusmaximus04

        "Instead, so far Google has mostly pretended developers don't need to create "tablet optimized" apps. Well, with that kind of attitude, how can you expect a lot of tablet apps on the market, when even Google themselves say they are not necessary, even though they really are."

        Because they aren't. I don't think you understand what Google is saying there, likely because of a misunderstanding of how the Android SDK works. Tablet optimization generally amounts to UI changes; altering the spacing/size/etc of menu UI elements to better use the greater amount of space available vs. on a phone screen. There's really nothing else that needs to be changed to make an app tablet-specific.

        There's two ways to do this. The first is what you're saying: develop a separate version of the app that targets tablets. That's what Google is arguing against(and rightly so) because it'll fracture the market.

        The second alternative is to use the fact that layouts, along with all other app resources, can be made specifically for each different screen size(phones 4-ish inches, 7" tablets like the Nexus 7, and ~10" tablets) *within the same app*. The device then automatically loads in the UI specified for that screen size. This accomplishes the exact same benefit of tablet-specific apps but requires only 1 version of the app to be on the market. That's what Google is saying they want done.

        • http://profiles.google.com/marcusleejh Marcus Lee

          ^^^ THIS.

          Oh, and nice name ;)

  • Ryan B

    I hope devs really take this to heart

  • Sven Enterlein

    I was just talking to my colleague about the lack of Android tablet apps. I liked the notion that apps shouldn't be developed specifically for tablets. They should automatically recognize when they're run on a tab and then change the layout accordingly. But I'm not a developer, just an end user. Here's to waiting for a future rich in tablet apps!

    • ericl5112

      Google is hardly the first to think of that. Apple's universal apps accomplish the same thing. One file, tablet or phone. That said, android has a lot better layout widgets for multiple screen sizes than iOS, but apples working on that too.

      That said, as an android developer, android could really benefit with some better tools for developers to make tablet apps. Fragments are good, making a UI out of them could be a lot easier.

  • Kernschatten

    "Now, the most popular slate position is portrait. "

    I curse Google daily for the 7 inch tablet UI. Apex took care of most of my complaints. Landscape all the way.