Following the launch of Android 10 and announcement of new tablets at IFA 2019 this week, Google is again encouraging developers to optimize apps for large-screen Android devices. One reason the company touts is the over 175 million Android tablets running the Google Play Store today.
In an Android Developers blog post today, the company shared the new statistic, and called “Android tablets a vital form factor for Google and our OEM partners today.” Historically, Android apps on larger screens have — uncharitably — just looked like stretched-out phone clients despite the company’s various efforts across OS versions.
The company provided a history of how Android added support for new form factors over the years:
- We started with a phone. Developers could write Android apps that would work on phones of all sizes, all over the world. Part of what made this work was Android’s resource and layout system, which enabled applications to smoothly adapt to different screen sizes.
- In Android 3.0 Honeycomb, we added support for tablets. In particular, capabilities like Fragments allow you to create applications that work across vastly different form factors.
- Android 7 Nougat brought multi-window and multi-display capabilities, including the ability to drag-and-drop across apps. Meanwhile, Chrome OS added the capability to run Android applications on laptops. With some adjustments to handle different inputs and windowing dynamics, you could now reach app users in a desktop-style environment.
- Now, in Android 10, we’ve made even more enhancements for development on large screens. We’ve improved multi-window capabilities, making it easier to use multiple apps in parallel. We also continued improving multi-display support, enabling more multi-monitor use cases. And we made it easy for you to experiment and test new form factors by adding dedicated emulator for foldables as well as publishing a foldables guide.
Google’s latest argument for Android developers is centered around the 175 million addressable user market, and how OEMs like Samsung with the Galaxy Tab S6 and Lenovo at IFA with the Smart Tab M8 are releasing up-to-date devices. The two companies provided quotes about their work on the form factor:
The other rationale Google has recently been advancing is how work on tablets also translates to Android apps on Chrome OS, and the Android Foldables form factor. The former category has seen the “number of monthly active users who enabled Android apps grew 250% in just the last year.” Meanwhile, Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is finally going on sale this month.
By optimizing your app to take advantage of different form factors, developers have an opportunity to deliver richer, more engaging experiences to millions of users on larger screens.