There is no arguing that the new Hangouts Android app, which replaces Google Talk and aims to unify several communication methods, has had a rough start. One of the main issues we've run into from the very beginning was wonky tablet support. In fact, most people couldn't install it at all because instead of the Update button, only a lone "Open" button would show up on tablets. Dan Morrill, one of our favorite Android engineers (HOLOYOLO! No really, he yelled that at yesterday's Android Fireside Chat), has explained that this happened due to an unfortunate bug with telephony-related permissions, and that a fix would be rolling out shortly.
Google made a big deal out of its improvements to the Play Store in the massive keynote that kicked off I/O, and at least some of them are live right now. Probably the most important for tablet owners is the ability to highlight apps specifically designed for tablets, or at least, the ones that have given some thought to layout and interface on larger screens. The updated tablet view is being rolled out right now, and on at least some devices (read:mine) it includes the option to filter out the smartphone chaff from the tablet wheat.
If you want to see it, make sure your tablet is running the latest build of the Google Play Store (4.1.6 - download it here) and tap the Apps link on the front page.
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.
The Developer Economics 2013 report—a sort of State of the Union on app development—is out and it's packed with helpful tidbits, both for armchair analysts and programmers trying to make some sense out of this crazy software world. One of the most interesting observations the survey showed is there is still demand for a third platform. And right now they're getting it in a surprising place: on Blackberries.
Above is the graph of OSes that developers list as their "main" platform. That is not to say that any of them code exclusively for them, just that it is the primary target for attention.
Rumors have been bumping around the internet for a few days now, but Sony has finally put the speculation to rest. The Xperia Tablet Z has been announced, but only for the Japanese market at this point. The Xperia Tablet Z is the tablet counterpart to the recently announced Xperia Z phones, and it's running Android 4.1 at launch.
The Tablet Z has a 10.1-inch LCD screen at 1920x1200 with Sony's Bravia 2 post-processing engine. Inside, it's packing the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro at 1.5GHz per-core, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (with an SD card slot), and an NFC chip.
If you've been eyeing the HSPA+ version of Google's Nexus 7, AT&T is now offering you a little incentive. If you buy a Nexus 7 with 3G and agree to a 2-year data plan contract, AT&T will give you a $100 bill credit. It's not the best deal in mobile, but if you're planning to stick with AT&T for a while it's free money. What? You're going to turn your nose up at free?
This promotion mirrors a deal AT&T started running on its officially supported tablets late last year. With that offer customers could get a $100 subsidy on the upfront cost of a tablet in exchange for signing a 2-year contract.
After revealing the "world's thinnest" smartphone earlier today with the One Touch Idol Ultra (at a svelte 6.45mm), Alcatel has let fly news about the rest of their planned CES 2013 lineup.
Alcatel's got more devices in line than you've got pockets, from a pair of 7" tablets (in standard and HD variants) to a bevy of "Pop" smartphones, all of them apparently aiming squarely for the budget market. Grab a snack, because we're going to take a peek at the full array.
One Touch Tablets
Evo 7 / HD
First up is the Evo 7 and its HD counterpart (despite how it sounds, neither tablet has anything to do with HTC). Both variants are described as Wi-Fi tablets that can be "easily upgraded" to 3G (or, in the Evo 7 HD's case, 4G) through their removable 3G/4G modules.
I have a confession to make. I don't care for Evernote. 'Hang him from a gibbet!' I know, but I just prefer Springpad. Which is why I was excited today to see that the newest update brings tablet support for one of the coolest features: Springpad Board. This view allows users to look at all the elements of their notebook—be they text, photos, maps, to-do lists or whatever—as though they are sitting on a table. You can slide and move them around as you will. It's a lovely interface.
The new feature works on any Android tablet, though as you'd expect it's a little cramped on devices like the Nexus 7.
Since its launch, we've had bittersweet feelings about the Amazon Mobile app for Tablets. The app shows promise as a tablet-friendly shopping solution, but until now has suffered an extremely limited compatibility, only working with tablets running 4.1 and up and carrying a 1280x800 resolution.
An update to the app today, however, has changed all that. Along with a few bug fixes, the update (to version 5.50.1010 for those keeping count at home) brings support for devices in 7" or 10" form factors, with a variety of resolutions, and loosened OS requirements. Here's the full change log:
If you think back to the browser redesign that came with Android 4.0, you might recall the quick controls feature – a circular popup controls you could trigger with a tap. TasKarou Launcher Overlay takes that same idea and makes it universal in Android. This app can give you access to settings, searches, apps, and more with just a flick.
Quick controls in the old Android browser were never really a headline feature. The idea was that you could tap in certain areas and have a wedge of controls appear with functions like forward and back. Neat, but not necessarily useful on a phone.