Google tried to create software that ran specifically on tablets with Android 3.0 Honeycomb. That version of the OS wasn’t all that popular as not many manufacturers adopted it. Actually, Android tablets regained popularity with the introduction of Google’s Nexus 7 in 2012, but this tablet didn’t run a custom version of Android designed for tablets, it ran Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and this software was meant to be used in tablets and phones alike. Now there are many Android tablets from many manufacturers, but the apps supported by this operating system don’t take advantage of the extra space and resolution of these larger screens. The same might be said of the whole UI, as it is basically the same one used on phones, but scaled and it can rotate.
Now that the 10-inch Pixel C tablet has launched, some users are considering it quite expensive. It is targeted towards productivity, as the optional Bluetooth keyboard provides a more comfortable typing experience, but the software is still not considered to be as good as the one from a laptop, which costs more or less the same, although the laptop would sacrifice some portability. The team behind the Pixel C has taken some time to answer some questions from users, which has provided us some information about what they are working on. They mentioned that they are working with developers in order to get them to optimize their apps for tablets, but the question remains as if they would do something to improve the software running on the tablets.
Google seems to have been experimenting on a split screen mode for Android for quite a while now, but apparently they haven’t figured out the best way to implement it, so it’s not available just yet. Glen Murphy from the Pixel C team mentioned: “We’re working hard on a range of enhancements for Android in this form-factor – there are many things, like multiwindow, that we’ve been spending a lot of time on – hopefully we can share more about this soon.”, and Andrew Bowers, also responsible for the Pixel C, replied to another question: “We’re working on lots of things right now for N that, of course, we wish we had, you know, yesterday. But we’d spoil the surprise of N if we shared all of them. Split screen is in the works!”. From the two replies, we could conclude that the split-screen and multi-window functionality is going to be delivered in the next version of Android, currently known as N. We’ve seen split-screen functionality in products from other manufacturers like Samsung or LG, while Sony has implemented floating apps on their phones and tablets. Let’s not forget that there are many apps that offer an enhanced multitasking experience, but having this work natively into the whole OS could be better. At least, the team acknowledges that the solution is coming a little late, but if it’s done right, we could have more productive Android devices next year.