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Since the first highly-anticipated Android tablet made its way to consumer hands, a few very real questions have been brought to the table. How is Google going to differentiate between tablets and handsets? Are tablets going to get different treatment in the Android Market? Why get a device with a much larger screen if nobody is going to treat it any differently?
These questions come in many different forms and they all ask some things worthy of need-to-know answers for potential buyers. Yesterday, Andy Rubin answered pretty much all of these questions in one fell swoop. He even went as far as to compliment Apple and their development mentality.
Rubin said that Honeycomb is going to be their new, desktop-like interface, and we will definitely see it on phones in the future. From the Google side of things, they're not giving tablets any special treatment, nothing that we won't eventually see on phones. They are continuing Android...the operating system as a whole, not favoring any specific aspect or use of their operating system over another. They're leaving that to the consumers and developers.
Based on what he said, I'm led to believe that they're not going to make a lot of changes in the Market either. He stated that the applications for phones will be the exact same applications for tablets, much like in Apple's app store, an app that is compatible with both the iPhone and iPad is tagged with a little plus sign on the icon. From the Market, a tablet and a phone will download the exact same install file, much like all of the different phones do now. The difference is, the applications will be aware of what device, or what type of device, they are installed on. Take the Gmail application for instance (pictured above in the blurry screen cap), it's much like the iPad email application. The left side is a scrollable panel with all of your received emails displayed in a thread. When you tap on one, it opens that email in the larger, right panel in full. The application will be the same on a phone but it will be treated differently. The list with all of the emails will be displayed full-screen and upon selecting a single email, it will switch to the full-size view of the message. It's the same code, but it reacts differently based on what it is installed on.
It is a brilliant way to approach a problem that could seriously increase Android's fragmentation issue. It solves more than one of the pending issues at once and keeps developers from having to write more than one application for very similar devices. It also encourages developers to add a little more creativity to their applications and the way they render on devices of different shapes and sizes, so I'm sure we'll see some bizarre implementations in the coming year or so. What do you think of this solution? Would you rather a developer make two separate applications or the same application for both tablets and phones. (Keep in mind, if it's one application, you would only have to buy it once for both your tablet and phone.)