Tag Archives: Foldables

High engagement, larger screens: How Android developers can reach users on any device

Posted by Allan Livingston, Product Management Director, Chrome OS App Ecosystem

Android fuels mobile apps on devices that range far beyond your typical small-screen smartphone, from new Chromebooks like the lightweight, high-performance Google Pixelbook Go to multi-display devices and foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Not to mention the more than 175M Android tablets that have the Google Play store installed.1

These large-screen devices set the stage for more engaging and visually immersive experiences, whether by creating a larger canvas for creativity or by giving users faster, more flexible ways to work. As we’ve continued to prioritize large-screen devices with OEM partners like Samsung, Asus, and Lenovo, we’ve been able to expand our reach to a huge new audience of users.

During the week of Black Friday in 2018, 1 in 3 notebooks sold in the U.S. were Chromebooks.2 Chromebook unit sales also increased 22% YoY, while the rest of the notebook category decreased -6.1%.3 And we’re not just reaching more users — we’re reaching more engaged users. In fact, in just the last year, the total amount of time spent in Android apps on Chrome OS has grown 4X.4

YoY notebook sales in the U.S.

By making adjustments for larger screens, you can provide richer experiences across all these devices and tap into a wider audience of app users. Development teams around the world — including Adobe Lightroom, Evernote, and Gameloft, among many others — have already seen some incredible results:

App developers driving engagement on larger screens

With the goal of allowing users to play any video file, anywhere, on any device or screen size, the developers at VideoLAN project decided to adapt VLC — an open source, cross-platform multimedia player — for all screens. The team started by adding keyboard and mouse support before designing multiple versions of the layout to allow users to easily scale and resize the app.

Users can now enjoy the same immersive experience across a range of different devices and form factors, and VideoLAN has already received overwhelmingly positive feedback from users around the world.

War Robots — a 12-player real-time battle game developed by Pixonic — was originally designed for early-generation phones. The team enabled windowed gameplay so users could play in one window while watching their favorite streamers or upgrading their robots in another, created new tutorials and controls that appear whenever players switch between desktop and tablet mode, and added support for keyboard and mouse input.

More than 100,000 players have already played War Robots on Chrome OS since Pixonic rolled out the latest optimizations, which made War Robots’ battles even more thrilling and engaging on larger screens, and Pixonic has seen 25% longer user sessions on Chromebooks as a result.

Is your app optimized for large-screen devices? Here are a few things to consider:

1) Laptop and tablet mode
Test your core app functions to make sure everything works smoothly without crashing as users switch between different modes.

2) Window management and layout
Support multi-window mode and free-form window resizing, and be sure to design optimized layouts for both landscape and portrait orientations. Set up your app to correctly handle configuration changes to avoid crashes when people rotate their devices.

Suite of devices

3) Keyboard and mouse input
Make sure your app is fully functional without touch input, and add support for keyboards, mice, and game controllers (if applicable).

4) Hardware support
If you’re using NDK, be sure to support x86 (32 and 64bit) ABIs to ensure the highest possible performance.

Build, test, and run Android apps on a Chromebook

From the start, our goal has been to make the Chromebook a simple, secure, and speedy environment for everyone. The launch of Linux (Beta) on Chrome OS allowed Android developers to build and test apps with a Chromebook. And earlier this year at I/O, we announced that Android Studio 3.5 now fully supports Chrome OS with a simple one-click installation.

Since then, we’ve been working on a few improvements that make Chromebooks an even better place for safe and seamless Android app development. Let’s start with the biggest one:

Deploying an app directly to Chrome OS to enable full Android development
In the past, you could only test your apps by deploying them to Android phones. With Chrome OS’s upcoming M80 release, you’ll be able to deploy Android apps directly to your Chromebook. That way, you can develop and test your app on the same machine, all without a connected device or needing to put your laptop in developer mode. Developers can start testing this feature in developer channel in November.

GPU acceleration for a snappier, jank-free UI (now in beta channel)
We’ve enabled GPU support to reduce latency and deliver a snappier UI. That goes for developer apps such as Android Studio, Unity Editor, or Visual Studio Code. And for developers who also work on web apps, GPU acceleration means faster testing with Chrome Canary or Firefox.

Container backup and restore to easily move between devices
Previously, Linux files and apps were tied entirely to the device — if you lost your device, you lost all the work inside of it. Now, Chrome OS’s container-based architecture allows you to pack up your entire workspace and export it to external storage or Drive. The backup file can be restored at any point, either on the same machine — which is helpful when jumping back to a previous state — or to move to another Chromebook.

You can now find import and export buttons in your Linux settings.

Picture-in-picture (PiP) support

If you’ve built PIP support into your Android apps, you’ll see that function work seamlessly in Chrome OS in 2020. But you can start testing this feature now by enabling PiP in Android settings → Developer options.

Build your apps with larger screens in mind

With millions of users on Chromebooks, tablets, foldables, and now multi-display devices, designing app experiences with larger screens in mind is crucial. Seize this opportunity to engage more users by optimizing your existing apps to work great across all screens. And the latest Linux features on Chrome OS give you the power to use a single machine to build and run Android apps. Don’t hesitate to take action to ensure your apps work seamlessly on larger screens with Linux on Chrome OS.









Sources

1. The number of tablets only accounts for devices that have the Google Play Store installed (e.g., excluding tablets in China); the actual number of tablets capable of running Android applications is much larger.

2. The NPD Group, Inc., Retail Tracking Service, U.S., Notebook Computers, Chrome OS, based on units, Nov. 18, 2018–Nov. 24, 2018 vs. Nov. 19, 2017–Nov. 25, 2017.

3. The NPD Group, Inc., U.S. Retail Tracking Service, Notebook Computers, based on units, Sept. 2018–Aug. 2019. Sales are adjusted for 5 weeks in Jan. 2018 vs. 4 weeks in Jan. 2019.

4. Google Internal Data, March 2018–March 2019.

Expand your app beyond mobile to reach Android users at large

Posted by Sameer Samat, Vice President, Platforms & Ecosystems

dark theme graphic illustration with geometric shapes and Android 2019 logo

From day one, we designed Android to be a flexible, adaptive platform.

Most people picture a smartphone when they think of Android, but Android also powers an amazing number of large-screen devices. In fact, there are more than 175 million Android tablets with the Google Play store,1 making Android tablets a vital form factor for Google and our OEM partners today. Android apps also run on Chrome OS laptops, and the number of monthly active users who enabled Android apps grew 250% in just the last year.2

Here at Google, we’re excited to see how you can take advantage of large-screen formats - including Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S6, the upcoming Lenovo™ Smart Tab M8 with Google Assistant, the upcoming Samsung Fold, and other devices launching this week at IFA. Our OEM partners are building experiences that help users every day:

image of two quotes

From the start, Android was designed as a platform that could handle multiple screen sizes. Over the years, we’ve continued to add functionality for developers to accommodate new devices and form factors.

  • We started with a phone. Developers could write Android apps that would work on phones of all sizes, all over the world. Part of what made this work was Android’s resource and layout system, which enabled applications to smoothly adapt to different screen sizes.
  • In Android 3.0 Honeycomb, we added support for tablets. In particular, capabilities like Fragments allow you to create applications that work across vastly different form factors.
  • Android 7 Nougat brought multi-window and multi-display capabilities, including the ability to drag-and-drop across apps. Meanwhile, Chrome OS added the capability to run Android applications on laptops. With some adjustments to handle different inputs and windowing dynamics, you could now reach app users in a desktop-style environment.
Android’s layout system helps applications smoothly resize and adjust their layout interactively.

Android’s layout system helps applications smoothly resize and adjust their layout interactively.

  • Now, in Android 10, we’ve made even more enhancements for development on large screens. We’ve improved multi-window capabilities, making it easier to use multiple apps in parallel. We also continued improving multi-display support, enabling more multi-monitor use cases. And we made it easy for you to experiment and test new form factors by adding dedicated emulator for foldables as well as publishing a foldables guide.

By optimizing your app to take advantage of different form factors, developers have an opportunity to deliver richer, more engaging experiences to millions of users on larger screens. And if you don’t have access to physical devices, the Android Emulator supports all of the form factors mentioned above, from Chrome OS to phones and tablets.


Developers of apps like Mint, Evernote, and Asphalt are just a few who have seen success from taking their existing APK to larger screens.

image of a single quote from Damien Marchi, VP of Marketing at Gameloft

To learn more about optimizing your Android apps for richer experiences on tablets, Chrome OS laptops, foldables, and more, join us at the Android Developer Summit on October 23-24 — either in person or via the livestream — or check out our recap videos on YouTube.

Sources:

[1] The number of tablets only accounts for devices that have the Google Play Store installed (for example, this excludes tablets in China); the actual number of tablets capable of running Android applications is much larger.

[2] Google Internal Data, March 2018 to March 2019.

10 things to know about Android 10

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Android 10 is here! With this release, we focused on making your everyday life easier with features powered by on-device machine learning, as well as supporting new technologies like Foldables and 5G. At the same time, with almost 50 changes related to privacy and security, Android 10 gives you greater protection, transparency, and control over your data. This builds on top of our ongoing commitment to provide industry-leading security and privacy protections on Android. We also built new tools that empower people of all abilities, and help you find the right balance with technology.

Here are the 10 things you should know, centered on innovation, security and privacy and digital wellbeing: 

Simpler, smarter, and more helpful



1. Smart Reply now suggests actions. So when someone sends you a message with an address or a YouTube video, you can open and navigate in Google Maps or open up the video in YouTube—no copying and pasting required. And Smart Reply now works across all your favorite messaging apps.
2. Come to the dark side… with Dark Theme. You can enable Dark Theme for your entire phone or for specific apps like Photos and Calendar. It’s easier on your eyes, and your phone battery too. 
3. Take advantage of larger, edge-to-edge screens with the new gesture navigation. With simple swipes, you can go backwards, pull up the homescreen, and fluidly move between tasks. After switching, you won’t want to go back to visible buttons. 
4. With a single tap, Live Caption will automatically caption videos, podcasts and audio messages across any app—even stuff you record yourself. Live Caption will become available this fall, starting with Pixel.

New privacy and security features put you in control

5. You can choose to only share location data with apps while you’re using them. You’ll also receive reminders when an app that you are not actively using is accessing your location, so you can decide whether or not to continue sharing. 
6. In a new Privacy section under Settings, you’ll find important controls like Web & App Activity and Ad Settings in one place. 
7. With Google Play system updates, important security and privacy fixes can now be sent to your phone from Google Play, in the same way your apps update. So you get these fixes as soon as they’re available, without having to wait for a full OS update. 

Find the right balance with technology for you and your family

8. You have greater control over where and when notifications will alert you. Mark notifications as “Silent” and they won’t make noise or appear on your lockscreen, so you're only alerted by notifications when you want to be.
9. Now Family Link is part of every device running Android 9 or 10, right in settings under Digital Wellbeing. Parents can use these tools to set digital ground rules like daily screen time limits, device bedtime, time limits on specific apps, and more. They can also review the apps children install on their devices, as well as their usage.
10. Want to be in the zone but not off the grid? Digital Wellbeing now brings you Focus mode. Select the apps you find distracting—such as email or the news—and silence them until you come out of Focus mode. Sign up for the Beta to try it.
There’s lots more in Android 10, including a new enterprise feature that lets you use different keyboards for your personal and work profiles, app timers for specific websites so you can balance your time on the web, new gender-inclusive emoji, and support for direct audio streaming to hearing aid devices. 
Android 10 begins rolling out to Pixel phones today, and we’re working with our partners to launch and upgrade devices to Android 10 this year. Learn more at android.com/10.


Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering