Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

Google’s Answer for Lack of Android Tablet Apps: Make Phone Apps Look Better

Given that it can’t do much in the short term about the lack of Android tablet apps, Google is tackling one piece it can address: making Android phone apps look better on larger screens.

In a posting on its developer blog on Monday, Google announced plans to improve the appearance of phone apps with the next version of Honeycomb. Specifically, Google plans to offer two options to tablet owners looking to display apps that have not been optimized for Honeycomb — either stretching the app to fit the larger screen or zooming in.

“Android tablets are becoming more popular, and we’re pleased to note that the vast majority of apps resize to the larger screens just fine,” Google’s Scott Main said in the blog post. “To keep the few apps that don’t resize well from frustrating users with awkward-looking apps on their tablets, a near-future release of Honeycomb is introducing a new screen compatibility mode to make these apps more usable on tablets.”

But as anyone who has tried to view an iPhone app on an iPad or a standard TV program on an HDTV can tell you, there really is no substitute for optimized content.

The iPad, for example, does a pretty good job of compatibility given that it has twice the resolution (in each direction) of an iPhone. But enlarging phone applications isn’t the same as — nor a substitute for — having programs that really make use of the larger screen.

And that’s where Apple has a gigantic lead, boasting more than 100,000 tablet-optimized apps, compared to a few hundred for its nearest rivals, including Android.

Google didn’t detail just when the new feature will arrive, but Huawei plans to release a 7-inch tablet running the still unannounced 3.2 version of Android, so this feature could well come with that software release.

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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