Google is Rolling Out Improved Android Tablet Apps
The first Google-blessed Android tablet launched in 2011, and now more than a decade later, Google has rediscovered tablet apps. After neglecting large-screen devices for most of the intervening years, the company has announced new, tablet-friendly features in some of its most popular apps.
Google itself is largely responsible for the dearth of Android tablets. When it gave up on tablets in the wake of the disastrous Pixel C, it also stopped optimizing apps for the large screen, making an already bad problem that much worse. Whereas Apple has worked to standardize large-screen interfaces and provide developers with the tools to develop on the iPad, Google focused Android almost entirely on phones.
Now that Amazon and Samsung have carved up what’s left of the tablet market, Google is back at it. Part of that is the move toward foldable form factors, which can blur the line between a phone and a tablet, and the division is only going to become blurrier with time. To that end, Google is adding tablet enhancements to several of its flagship Workspace apps: Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Keep.
Multitasking is one of the key use cases for tablets and large foldables, and that is exemplified in the new drag-and-drop functionality. All the updated apps now support this feature in split-screen mode. So, you could grab an image or file from Chrome, and drag it into Google Drive to upload it. Likewise, you can select a table from Sheets and drag it into a Docs window.
The Drive app, which acts as a hub for Sheets, Docs, and Slides, is also getting a specific multitasking enhancement. Now, you’ll be able to open two instances of Drive side-by-side. This will help immensely if you need to dig around in your files, opening documents to find something in particular. It also jives nicely with the new drag-and-drop functionality.
The new Workspace functionality should be live in the coming weeks. This move comes just a few months after the most recent Google I/O, during which Google announced it would release a raft of app updates with tablet-optimized interfaces, and it’s working with third-party developers like Zoom and TikTok. Google also plans to release a new tablet. The predictably-named Pixel Tablet will launch next year, but that’s essentially all we know about it.