Google has been pushing developers to build tablet-optimized UIs for their apps since the Xoom was the hot new challenger to the iPad (haha). Okay, so that didn't work out very well, but with the release of devices like the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, devs are finally starting to see the value of building a great tablet experience. Of course, it's not like you'd know. The Play Store is terrible at showing off tablet UIs, but that's about to change. Google is updating the developer console to verify tablet compatibility and break up screenshots for tablet/phone interfaces.


From now on developers uploading apps will have the option to verify they have adhered to the tablet UI guidelines for 7 and/or 10-inch slates. From there, screenshots specific to that version can be added. There are two main benefits of doing this. First, when you're browsing the Play Store from, say, a Nexus 7, apps that have tablet UIs built for that size device will show you the correct screens. Secondly, Google now has a way to identify tablet-friendly apps in the Play Store with the developer verification. That should make it easier to filter based on tablet compatibility.

It's not clear yet how the web-based Play Store will handle the different categories of images. That's assuming there is any change at all on the desktop side.

[Android Developers]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

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

    This has hugely important implications. By doing this and requiring that if such screenshots are uploaded, the app actually adheres to tablet design guidelines, Google actually creates a distinction between phones and 7"/10" tablet-optimized UIs and will finally be able to definitively feature tablet-optimized apps as opposed to what's happening now, which is seeing that an app is compatible with tablets (which most apps are) but having no idea whether it has an optimized tablet UI that adheres to tablet guidelines or not.

    In fact, that part about asking developers to manually confirm adhering to tablet guidelines is the most important bit. The separate tablet screenshots bit is a corollary/side effect, though a nice and very welcomed one.

    Now I just have one question to ask. What took you so long, Google? This should have been done years ago.

    • DeadSOL

      Their main priority was getting into the market at first. Then, they had to compete with crApple. Then, they had to take the market lead. Now that they have done all of that, they're focusing on unifying their amazing OS aaaaaand making it better.

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

        But see, I don't think those are mutually exclusive. In fact, the "take the market lead" part would have been easier to do if people could clearly see which apps are optimized for tablets.

        They could have pushed tablet optimized apps a long time ago. I've always said that they should have fun another ADC (https://developers.google.com/android/adc/) but aimed at tablets.

    • hersbert

      Im sorry if this sounds stupid - but are they actually enforcing their requirement? Is anyone manually checking wether the apps really differ their presentation with other screen sizes? If not, devs could claim their app was tablet friendly, even including screenshots.. If no one looks at them..

      Btw, Im sorry since this is off topic, dont answer if it bothers you. But did anyone ever notice partial updates over google play? I just updates 'the room' and just like every other app, it downloaded the whole 180mb.. Didnt they want to introduce partial updates a year ago?
      Sorry again if my post is too off topic.

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

        Yeah, I don't know on that first one. I imagine if they are found in violation, they may get some sort of a slap on the wrist, or something more serious.

      • Freak4Dell

        It says the download is the full size of the app, but if you watch your progress bar, it will stop downloading after a bit and say it's finished. It won't actually download the whole thing again.

      • Ygor Vaz

        Yeah, I really don't know how it works. It works in the majority of the apps, but some others it updates the whole app (like cut the rope).

        • akshay7394

          Cut the Rope, Instagram, Facebook, sooooo many.

          I don't get it.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      I am really curious if this might result in a change to the Play Store ToS for developers. There will eventually be some advantages for apps with posted screenshots, which means some people will post bogus shots or random images so that their apps show up in searches. I doubt Google will permit that kind of activity to go on or that the punishments will be insignificant (look at what happened to Hazard Rush over an obvious joke). This might mean Google has to finally commit to moderately curating the Play Store, even if just to respond to user complaints about bogus screenshots.

      By extension, how strictly will developers be expected to adhere to the design guidelines? I'm sure the policy won't be anywhere near as harsh as Apple's, but it might mean Google is headed towards prodding developers to make their apps look better.

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

        All good questions.

        I'm sure the community will take an active part in policing this aspect just like it does other aspects right now, such as reporting malicious apps.

      • Robert Blenkinsopp

        Yes, I'd like to see an end to the "Publicity Screenshots" which aren't actually screenshots but a composed montage of screens from the game for publicity purposes.

        Into The Dead does it (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sidheinteractive.sif.DR&feature=top-apps#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLG51bGwsImNvbS5zaWRoZWludGVyYWN0aXZlLnNpZi5EUiJd) though it's not a particually obnoxious example.

        Screenshots should be for screenshots. The publicity images have a place but it should not be in screenshots.

        • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

          I don't mind publicity shots as long as there are also real screenshots next to them. In fact, sometimes I think they work well when they give context to what you're supposed to be looking at. I reviewed Plasma Sky a while back and thought those pictures were more meaningful than having just straight-on screenshots. Though, it would have been good to see at least one or two unadulterated pics.


          • Robert Blenkinsopp

            I think that's a probably a good compromise, I don't mind them being altered a bit its more the fact that the actual screenshots in them are so small most of the time that it defeats the point of being a screenshot for me.

  • http://twitter.com/mikecane Mike Cane

    Hmph. What about tablets with 7.85-8.0" screens? All those made in China, like the Archos 80 -- and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0. And what about the 9.7" Android tablets (Archos ,Coby, others)?

    • Kcls

      My guess is they're only focusing on Nexus screen sizes.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      You're leaving out the Asus Transformer AiO. Nothing like 18.4" of tablet madness :)

    • Chris

      the joys of android fragmentation.......

    • North Jones

      I would think that the 8" and under would be grouped with the 7 UI and the 9.7" would receive the 10 UI. Any tablets in between are an awkward middle ground but realistically there aren't going to be many sold in that range.

  • Angel Penabad

    Google is making a lot of moves in many areas, UI holo design, playstore design, setting up a better enviroment for developers, all that glass thing, the 8-million Nexus 7-2 for 2013....I can't wait to see what they have prepared for Google I/O because this is a lot of movement. Was this the same a year ago before I/O?

    Looks like you will need a 2 hours podcast this Thursday. :P

  • Chris

    About time.

  • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

    "option to verify they have adhered to the tablet UI guidelines" - not really. There's only a link above 'upload screenshot' section which says "Only upload tablet screenshots if your app is designed for tablets" and the linked developer.android.com article is huge. It's not a quick checklist or way to verify compliance.

    Second - when browsing from phone, it is showing all screenshots; the tablet specific screenshot too. Same from desktop. I don't have an android tablet. Can someone confirm is it showing phone screenshots too while browsing from tablet? If they are going to show all screenshots everywhere, what's the point in creating 3 sub-sections in 'upload' section of dev console?

  • anon11

    "Google now has a way to identify tablet-friendly apps in the Play Store with the verification checkbox."

    What the heck are you talking about? There is no verification checkbox. Also, when on a tablet, it shows you the tablet screenshots first and puts the phone screenshots last.

  • mechapathy
  • Samsung Fanboy

    Im sick of this shit., the vast majority of apps work fine on tablets and even look the same on the tablet as they do on the phone. all the Devs have to do is redesign their app's icon with an HD on it and bam !! tablet app !!