Dear Andy Rubin, phone apps on tablets suck

Apple kicked off its event today with its usual big number announcements. The mega tech company touted that it has sold 100 million iPads, received 200 million iOS 6 downloads, 300 billion iMessages sent, along with 36 billion iOS apps downloaded. In addition, Apple issued upgrades to all its Macs (except for the Mac Pro) and revealed the long rumored iPad mini. The iPad mini sports a 7.9-inch 1024 x 768 resolution display, a dual-core Apple A5 processor, optional LTE, a 5-megapixel iSight camera, 802.11n Wi-Fi, the new Lightning connector, and a claimed 10-hour battery life.

Now let’s get to the interesting trash talk, shall we? Phil Schiller, an Apple senior executive, compared the device to Google’s Nexus 7 tablet. And boy did he have a lot to say. First, he mentioned how Apple’s tablet is lighter and thinner than Google’s tablet in spite of having a display area that’s a third larger. He then went on to talk about the mini’s bezel being smaller and made of aluminium. Schiller also said the Nexus 7 “feels like a toy” when compared to the little brother of the iPad. But the Apple exec hit the search giant below the waist when he started to talk about apps.

Phil Schiller went in great detail on the quality of tablet specific applications tailored for the mini’s almost 8-inch display. Dude hit the nail right on the head when he said “these aren’t scaled out mobile apps, these are powerful apps.” It was a slap to the face to Google’s whole ideology of how apps should look on Android tablets. Let’s just go back in time, last year to be exact. The father of Android, the man himself Andy Rubin, in an interview with Walt Mossberg of All Things D said “I don’t think there should be apps specific to a tablet.” Whether he misspoke or not: his point was made. That point being Android isn’t going to developers and directing them to focus on making separate applications for its tablets tablet specific applications, at least for the time being.

Besides all the talk about the differences of the two slates, Apple flaunted its one true advantage today: apps. Many who own the Nexus 7 — including myself — say it’s a good tablet, but the only sore spot is the lack of apps tailored for it (read our 10 must have Nexus 7 apps). In the end, I hope Andy Rubin and company will get its act together and step its game up, because tablet specific applications DO matter. However, if Google doesn’t change its ways, Apple will eat their lunch once again in a space it so desperately needs.


  • He said that you don’t need a separate app for tablets, one app for all. You can optimize it by adding different layout for different screens.

    • Saif nailed the issue. Most developers don’t bother to add different layouts. Not that that’s an easy task, per se, and fragmentation on Android does play a complicated role here, but the overall point that Google knows about this issue and is paying extra attention to it is lost here.

      • My app supports 1950 out of 2027 devices.. fragmentation is just an excuse of lazy developers

  • Peshal Nepal

    Saif is exactly right . I develop app for android too. We can make one app that can change layout depending on the resolution of the device to take advantage of the screen. I think individual app developers should utilize the feature and optimize their app for the tablet as well.

    • Small devs follow Android guidelines.. It’s the big players like Facebook & Twitter who don’t

  • Dear Intomobile, tablets suck

    • Anonymous

      Dear Dan G, Surface tablets SUCK! there will be more hacking victim’s  account thru App. 

  • I think we all agree here. However, it doesn’t hide the fact that there is a severe lack of tablet specific apps in the Google Play Store. And this has been the case for some time now. I’ve been hearing lots of talk from devs saying they can make the apps, but I still see little to no progress. I’m tired of the excuses, let’s make it happen! 

  • Good job on taking a quote out of context.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for taking Rubin’s comment at AllThingsD out of context.  He said that there shouldn’t be tablet specific apps because your OS should seamlessly scale applications to the appropriate resolution of your device.  You don’t see multiple versions of PC applications based on monitor resolution; the same is true for what Rubin expects Android (post ICS) to do relative to phones and tablets.

    I don’t disagree that there should be apps that specifically take advantage of a tablet’s extra real estate, but I think you misconstrued Rubin’s comment.

  • undecillion

    Oh man, apple knows how to play its trumpets (aka pseudo-tech-journalists)

  • Raghav Baijal

    “I don’t think there should be apps specific to a tablet.”

    Charles, you interpreted this statement totally wrong. According to me, Andy meant that there shouldn’t be one app for a phone & the same app for tablets. There should only be one App. However, that app should have the capability to understand whether its a phone or tablet & then adapt/optimize itself for the resolution, screen size etc. Currently, if you buy Angry Birds Space for iPad, you can’t run it on a iPhone. You need to buy the iPhone App again…    Which totally sucks IMHO.
    The problem isn’t with Google’s philosophy, but with Lazy Developers who didn’t find enough market share of android tablets for them to bother with Tablet optimized apps. By putting a $200 7″ tablet on the market, Google is making the 7″ form factor widely available in the market, hopefully flooding it. This will, as Google hopes, encourage developers to create tablet optimized experiences for their apps. But, as I said earlier, it will always be 1 app.

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