(Pocket-lint) - Android has always been really good at being adaptive. Even back in the early days, the ability of an app to scale to the size and aspect of the display meant you could use Android and its apps on all manner of devices.
But at the same time, while variety was great, Android always attracted criticism for not being as size specific as iOS - or more precisely, Android has never been as good on tablets as the experience you get from what's now called iPadOS.
Interest in Android tablets took a dip some years ago: from hundreds of cheap tablets, many manufacturers withdrew their offerings, leaving just a couple of players in the market - most notably Samsung.
At Google I/O 2022, there was a feeling that Google is finally ready to embrace tablets again.
Android 13 is getting ready for larger displays
While Android has supported tablets for a long time, offering up slightly different interaction, Android 13 appears to be making a much bigger step to support larger screens. We suspect this was first triggered by the evolution of folding phones - which might call for a different type of interaction depending on the mode you use the phone in.
The notification shade will be more useful, not just an expanded version of what you get on a phone, but reconfigured into two columns so you can see - and do - a lot more with a swipe.
At the bottom of the screen you have a new app task bar, which is more reminiscent of how Chrome OS behaves, allowing you to open apps while still keeping those app icons at the bottom of the screen. It allows more of a desktop experience, without the need to constantly swipe back "home" before starting the next interaction.
There are changes to support multitasking too, with easy dragging to create a split-screen environment and then the ability to drag and drop between apps - Google Photos into Gmail for example.
We suspect this will be supported in Google's own apps, but we don't know how wide drag and drop support will go into third-party apps.
Google is making its apps tablet friendly
Core to the Android experience is the apps that Google supplies - and there's confirmation that it will be updating over 20 Google apps to optimise the experience for tablets.
That means you'll get columned views, for example, less blank space and better overall use of the display, rather than it just being a larger version of what you see on the phone.
It's not just Google doing this - third-party developers are being encouraged to format for tablets. The given examples were TikTok, Zoom, Facebook and Canva.
But beyond that, Google says that it will be easier to find apps optimised for tablet use in Google Play - which itself will also have a tablet-friendly makeover.
Google is launching its own tablet
It's been a while since Google had its own tablet, with the company seemingly jumping from Android to Chrome OS before saying it wasn't doing any more.
Now, however, Google has confirmed that it will be releasing a Pixel tablet in 2023. We've only seen a brief preview of the tablet so far - which we've fully covered in this explainer - but we suspect much of this software work on tablets is to support the Pixel Tablet.
Interest in tablets increased through the pandemic as people expanded their digital windows for work and play and that's seen a number of manufacturers look to release tablets again.
Google seems to now be taking the whole thing much more seriously, but hopefully, this won't just benefit tablets, it will also boost the experience on larger folding devices too.