Google will start highlighting apps in Google Play that offer good full-screen support on Android tablets and foldables — and shaming the ones that don’t. The company announced the changes in a blog post yesterday in a clear bid to get developers on board with supporting larger screens for the OS.
“To promote high-quality apps that shine on large screens, we’ve made several ranking changes to boost quality across Play. Apps and games that adhere to our large screen app quality guidelines will now be ranked higher in search and Apps and Games Home.”
Starting in late August, Google will raise the visibility of apps that “resize well, aren’t letterboxed, and support both portrait and landscape orientations.” Whether a phone meets those criteria is now part of Google Play’s “Editors’ Choice Apps” and other Play Store features highlighting specific apps.
Google also says it’s going to have new “content forward formats” that use screenshots specific to form factor, so if you’re looking at an app, you can actually see how it’ll look in landscape mode versus portrait.
The store will also start displaying warnings when apps don’t run properly on phones with large screens. At first, those warnings will relate to “technical quality” — apps crashing or performing poorly — but Google spokesperson Nia Carter says the company is “working on other ways to notify users when apps aren’t optimized for large screens.”
The changes are potentially great news for Pixel Fold owners! Google doesn’t employ hacks to shoehorn landscape mode support on its foldable phone or Pixel tablets, standing in contrast to Samsung’s approach, which does try to compensate for devs that don’t take the extra step by offering an option to force apps into landscape mode when they don’t support it — and generally does a pretty decent job of it.
But that is not nor has it ever been the ideal solution to this problem. Google’s move to incentivize app developers to put in the extra work is overdue.
Update July 26th, 2023, 1:49PM ET: Updated with clarification from Google about app listing warnings.