Hugo Barra, the same Hugo Barra that presented with Google CEO Eric Scmidt at IFA Berlin last week, had an interview with TechRadar recently where he clarified his belief that the current Android OS is not yet optimised for tablets. We have been hearing for a while that the next version of Android is directed at changing the UI, and aimed at the tablet sector, and this just strengthens that belief.
Considering the number of manufacturers and vendors releasing quality Android 2.x tablets, or tablets that have plans for Android 2.2 down the line, this statement comes across as a bit confusing. Phandroid does a pretty good job of explaining what has been happening so far:
Android’s agnostic nature has given everyone the idea that it can be put on anything, but Google says otherwise: it simply isn’t meant for tablets, just yet. (He specifically stated 2.2, but if Froyo itself isn’t meant for tablets, then I can’t imagine anything before it was).
They still do support some higher-end tablet offerings – such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Dell Streak – by allowing those devices to use GAPPS and the Android market, but that’s because those manufacturers took the time to customize Android to play nice with apps not built for bigger screen sizes and higher resolutions (and because the rest of the device conforms to the standards needed to properly and fully license Android).
I was talking in the forums earlier today, and one of my main beliefs was that the Android tablets need a specialized Android Market specifically for tablets, as the hardware differences between smartphones and tablets create problems when trying to get a tablet Google certified for the Android Market. Luckily, it seems we have our answer.
Apparently, Google is already in the process of creating a new "application distribution mechansim" (aka app store) specifically designed for tablets in order to make sure users get properly developed apps for tablets, which may have significantly different internal from many smartphones.
Android Gingerbread was, pretty much from the beginning, rumored to be focused on improving the UI of Android, possibly in an effort to make manufacturer UIs like MOTOBLUR and HTC Sense superfluous. What's more, the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the unconfirmed Motorola tablet both are widely believed to have Android Gingerbread at some point.
Lastly, TechRadar comments that Google "currently isn't using Android on any tablets, hinting that it will have a tablet-centric OS soon." BoyGeniusReport indicates that Barra's words are perhaps hinting at "a future version of Android will be optimized for tablet devices (Honeycomb?)." Apparently BoyGeniusReport forgot that Gingerbread was supposed to be tablet oriented, and focused on Honeycomb instead.
Image from Phandroid