play store bag

The changes to the Play Store we mentioned last month seem to have taken effect. Now when you're checking out apps on an Android tablet, the home page and the tabs for "Top Paid," "Top Free" and the like will only highlight apps designed for use on tablets, at least by default. If you search for a non-optimized app manually, the full listing will use a "designed for phones" tag.

Check out these screenshots. Here's a DROID MAXX browsing the Play Store's home page, and a quick look at one of the featured apps, Cluster.

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Now the same view on a Nexus 7 2013. Notice that Cluster is missing. After searching for cluster and manually bringing up the listing, you can see the "designed for phones" tag of shame right under the developer field.

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If you'd prefer that the top lists to be unfiltered on your tablet, just select "all apps" from the drop-down menu, like so. Manual search results are not filtered.

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This is perhaps the most dramatic step Google has taken to improve the discovery process for tablet apps, going above and beyond some of their more subtle efforts. That being said, this isn't any kind of curated list: "tablet apps" are automatically sorted by Google based on a number of factors, including API support, screen resolution and size support, and tablet screenshots in the app description. So some apps that are merely functional on tablets, as opposed to "tablet-optimized," may slip through the cracks or purposefully avoid the tag.

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Developers, if you want to avoid getting the "designed for phones" tag applied to your Play Store page, Google has some tips over at the Android developers blog. For everyone else, the changes should be appearing automatically in the Play Store on your tablet.

Thanks, Anthony Garrett!

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Leif Sikorski

    Hopefully they'll integrate that in the webstore as well, because I barely use device to discover new apps.

  • mgamerz

    Artem why did you +1 the Facebook app.

    • Mado

      Petition to add Artem to unapproved list

      • Cole


    • Fitzelgard Allan Gerard

      He gives hope where there is none.

    • Matthew Fry

      I'm sure it was accidental :-)

  • mustbepbs

    I saw this the other day. Good on Google.

    • Lexster

      It certainly is logical.

  • Jim Shepherd

    Cue Nexus 10 announcement...

  • lbrfabio

    Doesn't work on my Nexus 7, so I guess it's not available for everyone at the moment.

  • LiamBryant

    I think Google should just manually throw this tag on the Facebook app. Everybody knows it sucks, why allow them to sneak past the detection algorithm?

    • http://www.efetech.com.ar Federico

      Google should create a "This app sucks" tag

  • abobobilly

    The more important aspect in my opinion is the "quality" of tablet optimized apps instead of Quantity ... which is where Google and developers should focus. Ever wondered ... its been YEARS since Android came out and we still don't have a Proper Facebook App. But thats just a tiny example, and a bad one.

    • TylerChappell

      Umm, that's Facebook's fault, not Google/Android's.

      • abobobilly

        Ofcourse its not. But Google is promoting something which essentially "isn't there". The amount of bloatware in Play Store "now" is far greater than i have seen a couple of months ago, and i believe its Google's fault for not keeping a tight check & balance on app devs. Which is why devs are found ignoring the other aspects of an app than its "function".

        Anyway, did you check the "New FB 4.0" app? STILL not the way it should've been. Above all, once again they managed to eff up the Tablet UI as well. So my point about "quality" stands valid.

        • TylerChappell

          All of Google's apps that are tablet optimized look and function beautifully, but your statement implies that Google hasn't put enough focus on their own apps. Google has done a bangup job with their own apps. Other developers need to get with it and do the same with their apps and show that they care about what they are making, and then maybe more people will be willing to buy their apps. I buy apps at least on a monthly basis, but with hundreds of thousands of apps in the Play Store, its actually really easy to find the good ones and avoid the bad ones. It's not like anyone has a device out there with enough storage to download every app anyway.
          Facebook needs to lose some of their pride and realize that "their way" of doing their FB app, isn't the best way. Companies as large as Twitter and FB have absolutely no excuse for not having put out good apps by now with tablet optimized versions, absolutely no excuse.

          • abobobilly

            I am not implying anything about "Google Apps" man. Infact, i consider Google Apps to be a "benchmark" for other app devs to follow. (I've been babbling about the awesomness of Google+ app for a long time now).

            What i mean is, Google should pay more attention towards "check & balance" of their Play Store apps, and to ensure that "other devs" follow the design guidelines (by applying some rules/restrictions). Because in the end, its "Google's" Play Store, and if they won't keep it clean, No one will.

            When i said "the amount of bloatware/junk on the rise", i was talking about those stupid apps with a naked boobified girl on the apps icon, with a name "greatest sex positions" and what not. These are "lame" attempts from some devs who primarily don't have anything creative to do, and are making such apps either for pure fun or to earn money (in most cases its the latter).

            And i strongly agree with your last point. When i saw this "4.0" App of Facebook, I KNEW they are gonna go the in the same direction as Twitter. Twitter app for 10 inch Android tablets is a prime example of how tablet optimized apps should've been made in the first place. But since there is no one "pushing" them to do so (Google!!), they are not budging. Get my point now?

    • mateor

      To have a tablet-optimized app, it basically just requires screenshots from a tablet-sized screen. No real quality control involved.

      I just hooked my same app (UI design really stopped at 4.1) to my wife's Transformer 101 and 2012 Nexus 7 and was done....

  • tokuiten

    Google really needs to bring the hammer down and require that all Play Store apps have full tablet optimization unless the developer can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the app is designed for a *specific* model of phone.

    • Victor Stuber

      Yeah...or not. Not all developers want to build a tablet app. Some apps are meant just for phones.

  • bremberdee

    Ughh they need to change the phlegm-colored play store.

    • daniel sutton

      yeah. the stained grey and dark lime green look incredibly dated

  • hakan

    Good to see that Google is shaming the Spotify app, too. :)

  • JeremyMcggy

    Unless the apps are curated this won't be of much help. Twitter and Facebook made it through so clearly this is useless.

  • KRS_Won

    I noticed this last night when I was updating apps... DirecTV for tablets ... Designed for phones. At first I thought it was DirecTV's doing. Then I looked at other apps.

  • Did@

    OMG I and my cat have orgasm - new visiblity it must be revolution

  • shadow

    I thought they implemented this a while back. At least on my Nexus 10 I noticed it on my nexus 7 not yet though.

  • Matthew Fry

    Just saw this on injustice last night and thought it was something the dev did on purpose. Surprisingly, I saw nothing in the app that suggested that it was "designed for phones." It wasn't that good, but that had nothing to do with the layout.

  • makapav

    They need to allow the user to shame and downvote apps that are not tablet compatible. Then see how quickly developers will get it right after a little user-based blackballing.

    • MyLeftNut

      They do. It's called reviews.

    • Ron

      it comes at the cost of Downvoting your counterpart who has developed an App for the Service(say for twitter or Facebook or YouTube).
      You now see the problem ?

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Is Google ever going to make the Play Store work correctly in landsape mode? It's annoying how there's no swipe navigatin around "My Apps" page unlike in the Portrait mode

  • Davem

    This creates a problem: "designed for tablets" requires API level 11 or higher, but this excludes the about 50% of devices on Gingerbread 2.x. That sucks. I assume we can submit two binaries...? But will google play conditionally show the "designed for...." For the appropriate device?

    • Jane parishoner

      Gingerbread is freaking ARCHAIC. You can't expect developers to keep supporting it any more than you can expect Windows 8 apps to work on Windows 98. Come join 2014 and get a device that isn't obsolete.

  • Jane parishoner

    Don't want your app slapped with the "designed for phones" tag? Stop being lazy and optimize it for tablets then! Simple! I love Android but will never understand why app developers refuse to make their apps optimized for tablets when Android tablets are now more popular than the iPad. It's got to be laziness, pure and simple.