May 10, 2022

Google needs to prove it’s serious about Android tablets before we can take them seriously

By Derrek Lee published February 08, 2022

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Android 12L Tablet Phone

Android 12L Tablet Phone (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

Recent reports indicate that Google is giving its tablet division some new love with its somewhat recent hire. The company brought in Rich Miner as its CTO of Android tablets, a role that he’s held since March 2021, according to his LinkedIn page. Given that Miner is one of the founders of Android, the largest smartphone OS, it sounds like Google is finally taking a fresh look at the Android tablet space.

While Android 12L might be more focused on improving the platform for the best foldable phones, bigger screen devices like tablets are also benefitting the upcoming update. It’s shaping up to be a decent first step to making Android tablets truly great, but it’ll take more than a fresh coat of paint to convince anyone.

Android 12L is a good first step

Our Alex Dobie took a look at the Android 12L beta, which is only running on a Lenovo Tab P12 Pro at the moment, and notes that the UI is a marked improvement over previous attempts at a proper tablet interface. Instead of just being a blown-up phone UI, Google is including software elements that actually make sense on a larger screen, such as better split-screen support, a new taskbar à la iPadOS and Windows 11 and an app compatibility mode for the apps that aren’t built for larger screen phones to make them display better on bigger screens.Sponsored LinksWhy Are Dubai Villas So Cheap? (Take A Look)Luxury Villas in Dubai

That last part is kind of important, though, because while it addresses one of the biggest problems of the Android tablet experience, it also highlights it. You’ve got Android apps on Android tablets, but you’ll find that not all of them are meant to be used on big screens and are just blown-up versions of the phone app, Instagram being a perfect example. It’s a pretty unattractive experience and one that can only be properly fixed if developers are willing to fix it.RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU…CLOSEhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.513.0_en.html#goog_8892706290 seconds of 3 minutes, 24 secondsVolume 0% PLAY SOUND

Android 12L Tablet Taskbar
Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

Especially when compared to iPadOS, it seemed like Google cared more about its app experience on iPads more than it did its own Android tablets.

Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s worldwide device tracker, says that while OS-level changes are necessary for Android tablets, developers are among the form factor’s biggest challenges.

“While the OS has always been competent on tablets, the app experience has not,” Urbani says in an interview. “Google’s primary objective should be to convince developers to create app experiences that take advantage of the larger form factor.”

Urbani says that while Android 12L looks like it’s making the necessary UI changes for tablets, “Google has yet to mention what they’re doing to incentivize developers to create apps that provide a better large screen experience and unless they invest heavily here, it may not be enough to renew interest in Android tablets.”

Google can’t just rely on Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7
Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

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According to IDC’s latest numbers, tablet shipments have declined in Q4 2021. While iPad shipments were among them, Apple still holds the highest tablet share at more than 38%. Meanwhile, Samsung and Lenovo are trailing in second and third place, with just 15.9% and 10% share, respectively. As Google’s top tablet OEMs, their combined share still falls behind Apple’s, despite making some of the best Android tablets on the market.

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