Google pushes for higher quality Android tablet apps

by David Needle

October 8 2012

Google pointed to Mint's full use of the tablet's screen as a practice other devs should consider.
Google pointed to Mint's full use of the tablet's screen as a practice other devs should consider.

Google is showcasing successful Android tablet apps and providing developers with a set of guidelines designed to help them optimize their apps for the tablet form factor.

The Google Android developer site now features a post highlighting “The Opportunity of Android Tablets” that includes information on three developers that are seeing “real results” since adding a specific Android version of their apps for tablets.

A separate post, detailed shortly, offers developers some guidelines for creating effective Android apps.

The news comes at a time when Android tablets in aggregate are making inroads against Apple’s dominant iPad, but also against the backdrop of Apple’s expected release of an iPad Mini later this month as well as new Surface tablets from Microsoft and other Windows 8 tablets from the software giant’s hardware partners.

Also, the most popular Android tablet is Amazon’s Kindle Fire which is based on a derivative of an early version of Google’s OS and offers its own app store -- and not Google Play, which Google is keen to promote.

Google’s own competing Nexus 7 has sold well since its recent release and is one of, if not the closest challenger to Kindle Fire in sales volume at the moment.

The three Android apps profiled are the Mint personal finance app; the Tiny Village game from TinyCo, and Instapaper by Mobelux.

Google says Mint reports seeing a consistent increase in user engagement and longer sessions of over 5 minutes for its tablet app.

TinyCo says its seen a 35% higher average revenue per paying user and 3x increase in downloads to Android tablets in the last 6 months. 

Instapaper for Android (also available on the iPad) is a popular app for saving web content you can read later.  Instapaper says it saw a 600% increase in downloads of its app on Google Play with the arrival of the Nexus 7.

The company says about half its downloads are now for Android tablets.

Google's Android tablet app quality checklist

Some of Google’s advise should be obvious to serious developers. For example, the company recommends that layouts and other user interface components be optimized for each targeted screen size -- 7- and 10-inch being the most popular at the moment.

But the checklist also gives detailed suggestions on how the app and custom layouts can specifically be optimized.

There are also suggestions on how to take advantage of the larger screen size tablets offer, including: 

  • Look for opportunities to include additional content or use an alternative treatment of existing content.
  • Use multi-pane layouts on tablet screens to combine single views into a compound view. This lets you use the additional screen area more efficiently and makes it easier for users to navigate your app.
  • Plan how you want the panels of your compound views to reorganize when screen orientation changes.


There are ten specific suggestions in total and recommendations for setting up a test environment in the Tablet App Quality Checklist post. 

Topics such as choosing the best tablet form factor and off-the-shelf versus custom apps will be discussed at the TabletBiz conference and expo in New York on November 27.  

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