It has traditionally been hard to find properly optimized tablet apps on Android. At first it was simply because there weren't any, but increasingly the problem is visibility. Google is aiming to change that with some new tablet-specific tweaks to the on-device Play Store app. Not only will tablet users see more tablet apps, but they'll be able to tell which apps are designed for larger screens.


The first of two changes affects the top lists in the Play Store app. That means the Top Paid, Top Free, Top Grossing, Top New Paid, Top New Free, and Trending. These lists will now default to showing apps that meet Google's tablet design guidelines. The "Designed for tablets" view is only a suggestion, though. Users can still switch over to see all apps.

The other change will make it easier to tell if the app you're looking at has been developed with tablets in mind. Any app or game that isn't up to snuff will get a "Designed for phones" label slapped on it. You'll still be able to view and install anything, but you'll have an idea if the app has met some basic requirements. Keep in mind Google isn't reviewing each app manually to make sure it's #HOLOYOLO. This is an automated process that checks apps for things like API version, screen size support, and the presence of tablet screenshots.


Even this limited app tagging system should make tablet apps a bit easier to find in Google Play. The changes roll out November 21, so developers still have time to get their apps in order.

[Google Developer Blog]

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.

  • Antoine Gagnon

    This is smart. I might buy the next Nexus 10.

    • Tyler

      Rumor has it Asus is going to make a new Nexus 10, might want to wait for that.

      • hot_spare

        Nothing about Asus really 'screams' quality apart from that outer aluminium cover.

        • Tyler

          I'm just saying that a new Nexus is in the works and usually something that is newer is better in one way or another. Nothing wrong with the current Nexus 10(i have one) just something that is a year newer is usually better.

          Edit: I just noticed that the original post said next nexus 10 woops.

        • ANex

          True, but Nexus line is all about "budget" not quality now anyway.

    • atg284

      Hopefully the quality control will be better this time :/

  • Jeff718

    >Non-Optimized Apps Marked As 'Designed For Phones'

    Good. Maybe this will get devs to spend some of their time making tablet-optimized apps.

    • Mike Reid

      Don't be too confident.

      My app just expands to have bigger buttons and bigger everything on larger screens. And it looks like I can easily make my app "qualify" by just creating and uploading a few new screenshots.

      Yet I'm not sure I'd call my app "tablet optimized".

      Doesn't matter too much to me yet though, since only the Xperia Tablet Z has the hardware to run my app.

      • Mental_Moose

        As an owner of the TabZ, I'm curious as to which app this is?
        Also: If it can only be run on a tablet, why is it not tablet optimized?

        • Joshua

          My interpretation is that the only tablet with the hardware necessary to run his app is the TabZ. Considering that most tablets have specs in-line with modern phones, is guess that there's another aspect, perhaps the waterproofing or a specific sensor, that determines the compatibility.

          • Mental_Moose

            Good point.
            That makes more sense.

        • Mike Reid

          Joshua is correct.

          Sony Tablet Z (and maybe some slight variants ?) seems to be the only readily available 1st world tablet over 5 inches in size that officially supports real over-the-air FM radio.

          I try not to "advertise" in posts here, but my one and only app (Spirit) and income is pretty much the only 3rd party real FM app "of note" and certainly the only such paid app.

          • Mental_Moose

            Thanks for the reply.
            I had no idea my tablet supported FM radio :p
            The app looks good. Would try it, but I don't listen to radio, so unfortunately it would not be worth my money :)

  • Justin W

    Why are they announcing this now instead of waiting for their Nexus/Android event later this year? Maybe their plan is to do this similar to last year and just do it in press releases instead of an actual event?

    • BrianLipp

      "The changes roll out November 21, so developers still have time to get their apps in order."

      Giving devs time to update things so when it goes live theyre ready and not left with their pants down if they announced it and then it went live a day later.

      • Justin W

        You get my point though - last I recall these types of major changes were more geared towards their Android/Nexus events.

        • Cherokee4life

          true but they might want to start spreading out their news/updates to get more coverage. To me though this isn't something that would be announced at I/O or another major event. This is just a Good Guy Google announcement because this isn't something "new" in the mobile world of app stores.

  • Floris

    I just hope it's going to be bettter than how it's being handled right now:

    • Gerjannn

      Whoa, that's really bad!

    • Jalla

      How about making an article about this?

  • Matthew Fura

    Honestly, Floris is right. On my Nexus 10, I go to Top Free and choose designed for tablets, and the first two entries are FB and IG, neither of which are designed for tablets and look horrid on my N10.

    Hell, you can't even view IG horizontally! This is a joke.

    • Joshua

      The saddest part being that social networks like Facebook and IG are the ones that would work best with tablet layouts. There are so many options when working with a large, split-screen view it isn't funny: opening pictures on the side, viewing comments, expanding posts, and so on.

      Just as sad is the fact that Facebook, whose product is exclusively software, can't seem to make a good app, which is a matter of software. You'd think at least a COUPLE of their devs could say "Hey, this would make things a lot better than how they are now, do let's do this." I'm still not sure what's going on. This applies to other software companies whose Android tablet offerings leave much to be desired.

      • Adrian Meredith

        Its all because of "not invented here" syndrome. A lot of these big name companies (adobe,facebook etc) dont have tablet apps because they aren't native applications. Its really pathetic.

  • Chad

    Speaking of Google and tablets...They seem to be doing a great job keeping hush hush about the next Nexus 10 (2013). Haven't heard much about it except Asus will be making it (I'm excited about this) and not too many rumors besides that. Anyone else hear anything?

  • Jeremy Janzen

    It is hard to fathom how far Google is behind on this. At least they are making an effort now, but seriously this is like they'd prefer Apple sells as many iPads as possible.

  • http://www.parafriv.net/ Para Friv

    It is hard to fathom how far Google is behind on this. At least they
    are making an effort now, but seriously this is like they'd prefer Apple
    sells as many iPads as possible. Thank you very much!

  • Artevius Hardin

    Here's to hoping they add an option like this for games that use Play Games Services. It'd help the devs that are already ahead of the herd.

    • Adrian Meredith


  • unsivilaudio

    About freakin time. This 'Tablet Spotlight' isn't cutting it. I wish they would let you see 'Top Paid for Tablets' or 'Recommended for your Tablet' categories.

  • Himmat Singh

    Is this not already present? It's just not the default option, but you can choose it from the drop-down menu all the same.

  • Meta Llica

    Play store