Ina Fried

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Google Is Doing Android Tablets, but What Is It Doing to Make Tablets Better?

It’s a foregone conclusion that Google is going to be offering its own take on the tablet, and that we’ll see it this week at its I/O conference.

But the real question is just what Google will add to the equation. With the Nexus series of phones, Google has shown its vision of what the right combination of operating system and hardware might look like.

On the tablet side, though, that’s not where the biggest issues lie. There are Android tablets in all shapes and sizes and running the gamut of prices from bargain basement to models that cost more than a comparable iPad.

What seems to be lacking are compelling, tablet-oriented apps along with dead-simple content services that consumers actually want to use.

Android certainly has its fair share of apps that will run on a tablet, but the problem is that many aren’t really optimized for the big screen. Instead, they were originally designed for smartphones and then scaled up for a larger screen, which can lead to a clunkier user interface or reduced functionality.

There’s also the matter of entertainment content. Google now has a one-stop shop for getting music, video and books, but the selection still trails that of Amazon and iTunes.

Google, of course, knows this. The company has spent much of the past year hopscotching the globe in meetings with developers, urging them to make better tablet apps. The company has had events in Taipei, Hong Kong and Bangalore as well as L.A., New York and Seattle, all aimed at beefing up the Android tablet app ecosystem.

It has done a bunch of design templates, style guides and other things aimed at making it easier for developers doing tablet work — as well as to make that work look better on the not-as-small screen.

Google has also been working to bulk up its own services for music, movies and TV (all recently brought together under the Google Play umbrella).

How much progress it has made, though, is less clear. But it’s hard to imagine Google can have a hit tablet without some significant progress on the software and services front.

AllThingsD’s Bonnie Cha contributed to this report.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus