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Android Tablets – a developer’s view

Posted by Gavin Thomas

Linux User & Developer talks to Tommy Forslund, producer at Swedish mobile developer Polarbit, to see if Android can do for Tablets what it’s achieved in the Smartphone market…

This article originally appeared in issue 92 of Linux User & Developer magazine.Android Tablets - a developer's view Subscribe and save more than 30% and receive our exclusive money back guarantee – click here to find out more.

The success of the Apple iPad has prompted other manufacturers to launch their own tablet devices, mainly based on the Android platform. But can Android have the same impact as it has done in the smartphone market? As well as putting together an excellent insight into the Android Tablet scene with his recent feature ‘iPad Killers?‘, and weighing up features of the Samsung Galaxy Tab versus the iPad, Phil King also talked briefly to Tommy Forslund, producer at Swedish mobile developer Polarbit, to see what front-line developers make of the transition…

Android Tablets - a developer's viewWill Android tablets be able to mount a serious challenge to the iPad?
They stand a good chance to. Android has shown itself able to compete with Apple in the smartphone sector, and I see no reason why the same shouldn’t be true
for tablets. Apple has an advantage in their nicely integrated media services, like iBookstore and iTunes. Android will be getting their music store soon though, and there’s nothing to stop first-generation Android tablet users from installing Spotify and Kindle for Android and get music and eBooks through those services.

From a developer’s point of view, how does the Android Market compare with others, such as Apple’s App Store?
Apple has slightly tighter control on what goes or doesn’t go on App Store, both in terms of actual content and in making sure applications function as intended on all target hardware. Android Market leaves this up to the developer to a larger extent. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.

How difficult will it be to scale up existing Android apps to work well on tablets?
They’re running the same OS as the Android smartphones, so basically it’s a question of adapting graphics to higher-resolution screens, and to make sure controls work okay and feel comfortable on a larger, bulkier device. We design our games to be resolution independent from the get-go, so for us there won’t be that much effort involved.

Does Google need to change the way in which the Android Market works to make it easier to develop apps for tablets?
It might be a good idea to allow users to search for tablet or smartphone applications separately – as long as they allow applications that work across the line to be listed under both headings.

Will we have to wait for Android 3.0 to reveal the true potential of Android tablet devices?
Mobile software and hardware tend to evolve at a very rapid pace. The second you grab the latest device or the latest OS update, you know there’s something shiny and new waiting just around the corner. While Android 3.0 will bring a lot of nifty improvements, for users as well as developers, tablets running earlier versions of the operating system will be perfectly capable devices in their own right. And when we do get 3.0, we’ll be lusting after 3.1 and 4.0 instead – and the circle begins anew…

If you’ve got a question you’d like us to put to a developer, get in touch via the ‘Contact Us’ page…

You might also like:
iPad Killers?
Samsung Galaxy Tab vs Apple iPad

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    • Pingback: Polarbit interviewed by Linux User & Developer « Polarbit()

    • I wrote a calculator app (Convertator: which allows full equations that may include units to be entered as text. The result of these equations may have the base or units changed. A history of the equations and results is kept so that they may be reused.

      Convertator bases include not only Binary, Octal, Decimal, and Hexadecimal, but also Dotted Decimal, ASCII, and Unicode.

      Constants, such as 3.14159265327 and 32ft/sec/sec, and Equations, such as the volume of a sphere and the conversion between Fahrenheit and Centigrade, are included with the application. However, users are not limited to the ones that come with Convertator. One of the main features is the capability to create Units, Constants, and Equations that are used frequently, and then share them with others.

      The original version is a Java desktop app. Then I ported it to Android. But with all the functionality, there are several screens, and I discovered that I had to completely change my mindset about UIs on the tiny amount of real estate of the smart phone. Now, as a developer I am wondering is the tablet closer to the desktop or the smart phone? Or does the UI take off in a completely different direction?

      Later . . . Jim