Google Play Store will promote tablet apps with a ‘quality’ rating

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Enlarge / A mockup of Android 12L working on different types and sizes of devices.

Google wants to make 2022 the year of Android tablets, and after rolling out a tablet-focused Android 12L update, staffing an Android tablet division, and shipping a tablet app or two, the company is now giving the Play Store some love for tablets. The goal is to make it easier for tablet users to find real tablet apps rather than extended phone apps.

First, the “ranking and profitability changes” for the Play Store. Google says, “In the coming months, we’ll be updating our layout and ranking logic in Play on large-screen devices to prioritize high-quality apps and games.” The ranking “will affect how apps are presented in search results and recommendations on the homepage, with the aim of helping users find apps that are best optimized for their device.”

To get a better ranking, an app must be “high quality”. The qualifications for this designation are described in detail on a “widescreen app quality“, which contains common-sense recommendations for building better tablet apps. It starts with the “Basic Compatibility” level, which includes things like “landscape mode support” (you’d be shocked how many Android apps spoil this) and “don’t pillar box your app.” The “Best” tier includes large screen layouts, multiple window support, and mouse and keyboard support. The “best” tier includes a fully responsive design for tablets, foldables, and desktop mode, as well as pen support and right-click context menus for a mouse.

Google doesn’t say how it will determine if an app meets these criteria. Google’s typical process would involve some sort of automated app analysis, though it’s unclear how effective that kind of system would be at determining “quality.”

Also, if apps don’t meet at least the “basic” requirements on a tablet, they will be flagged as “low quality” and the Play Store will show some sort of alert when a tablet user is going to install it. . Google says to “stay tuned for more updates later this year” for more details.

Google Play will also divide reviews by device type and display the most relevant review type by default. So, tablet users will see reviews from the tablet app, while phone users will see reviews from phone users.

Overall, this is a lot of solid improvements for discovering tablet apps on Google Play. Now we just need developers, especially Google, to Craft tablet apps.

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