An open letter to The Verge
Dear Mr. The Verge,
I often hear you bemoaning comments made by Google reps regarding Android Tablet apps. Namely any comment along the lines of: "Developers shouldn't have to make separate Tablet versions of their apps"
And you response is usually along the lines if "Yes they do!" And I get it! I understand where you are coming from! As a recent entrant to the Android tablet market, I too begrudge the app developers who don't make tablet centric UIs. But I believe I detect a misunderstanding on your part.
When the Android reps talk about not making Tablet specific versions of their apps, they mean that developers should be able to maintain a single code base, and produce a single binary, that adapts to what ever screen it is on at run time.
So you have one Market page (or... Play page now I guess), and everyone downloads the exact same binary distributable, and it just works.
The Mint app is a GREAT example of this working perfectly! It has a beautiful tablet UI, and a great phone UI, and it just works no matter what screen it is run on.
Android enables developers to do this with Fragments (as I know you know). But in listening to your podcast, it seems like you think Fragments allow you to share code across different code bases (i.e. a separate phone code base, and a tablet code base) and that's not the case! Fragments allow you to take different isolated chunks of UI and functionality, and either display them alone (on phones) or as part of a larger UI (on tablets) and most importantly, this is all done dynamically in the same code base!
AND! It is ssooo freaking easy! Seriously! Even if you don't use fragments, you can just drop a tablet optimized layout XML file into a different folder, and BAM, 5 minutes of work and auto-magically your app looks way better on Tablets. And if you put in a few more hours to properly use fragments, your app can be killer on Tablets!
It boggles my mind that more devs haven't optimized their apps for tablets.
- An Android Developer