Google’s push for tablet-optimized Android apps is too little too late
Google wants to revive the Android tablet segment, but despite recent efforts to improve software, its attempts come a bit too late.
At its busy I/O 2022 event, Google revealed some promising changes coming to Android tablets later this year, but its attempts might just be too little, too late. It’s pretty obvious that Google is once again trying to inject some vigor into the Android tablet segment. One of the biggest challenges Google is facing right now is convincing people to take Android tablets seriously again. Google’s own attempts to make Android tablets haven’t been particularly successful. Nexus tablets got off to a good start, but tablet software development remained stagnant, despite new hardware entering the market year after year.
But it’s not just about making tablets. Instead, it was the software that didn’t deliver anything remarkable for larger screens. Android for tablets remained nothing more than an expanded version of the base experience that was primarily created with smartphones in mind. Google is finally trying to turn things around with the launch of Android 12L, the tablet-focused update that started rolling out a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, no tablets from Google’s OEM partners are currently running this tablet-optimized version of Android. Not even Samsung, which has stuck to the cause of Android tablets for a while now.
With Android 13, Google is presentation conveniences like drag-and-drop to open apps in split-screen view, but this feature has already been introduced by brands like Oppo on the foldable Find N. The most notable move is that Google is optimizing over 20 of its internal apps, including Gmail, YouTube Music, Google Maps, and Messages, to provide a more tablet-friendly experience and make the most of the larger screen instead. just great UI scaling. Google is also working with big names like TikTok, Zoom and Facebook, all of which will also provide tablet-optimized apps. And to make apps easier to discover, Google is adding a section dedicated to tablets on the Play Store which will offer apps adapted to the larger screens of tablets and accompanied by all the necessary optimizations.
An uphill battle for the Android tablet revival
Taking inspiration from Apple’s Universal Control playbook, Google is also adding support for drag-and-drop gestures to move content around screens. For now, cross-screen copying and pasting is limited to URLs and images. Google already offers a feature that allows users to copy and paste across multiple devices with the same Google Account signed in, but it’s nowhere near as versatile as Apple’s solution. Again, the actual availability of Android tablets with this new software is an issue. Just like Android 12L, which has yet to appear on tablets available on the market, the picture with Android 13 will probably not be different. No, unless Google is working closely with OEM partners and somehow helping them accelerate the release of Android 13 to their existing device portfolio.
However, the easiest route will be to bring in partners to launch new tablets that boot Android 13 right out of the box. This can be done by releasing a set of specs that cover the hardware requirements for tablets running Android 13 across all price brackets. However, saying this is easier than the actual implementation. Ultimately, this game is about making money and assuring OEM partners that they will actually find buyers for their tablets running Android 13. More than that, Google will have to convince tablet buyers that it doesn’t ‘t abandon the cause of Android tablets, as it has done in the past.
Google has given Apple a little too much time and space to continue tweaking its iPad ecosystem, and so much so that iPads have become the default choice for most tablet buyers. It’s almost disconcerting that although iPadOS is exclusive to Apple’s hardware, Apple actually offers tablets at a higher price than Android, which is open to virtually any brand that wants to make a tablet. That much, Google will need more than new tricks – buyer confidence and immense trust from OEM partners will be key to reviving the Android tablet industry.
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