The Google Play Store is starting to take tablet apps seriously. Announced last month on the Android Developers Blog and spotted on Friday by Android Police, the Google Play Store is now only showing tablet-optimized apps in its top lists when accessed through a tablet. Apps that are not optimized for tablets will receive a “Designed for phones” tag, on the other hand. The Google Play Store has always lagged behind the iOS App Store in terms of tablet apps, so this move should encourage app developers to optimize more of their apps for tablets.
When viewing top lists on an Android tablet, tablet-optimized apps will be shown by default, but there is still an option to view all apps in the Play Store. However, apps that are not tablet-optimized will receive a “Designed for phone” tag near the top of their description. All apps will also show up when manually searching for apps. To take advantage of these changes, prospective tablet apps must meet certain Play Store standards, such as screen resolution and size support, API support, and tablet screenshots in the app description.
These changes will help address what is one of the Play Store’s largest problems. According to a study from Canalys this August, nearly half of the top iPad apps are either not available or not optimized for Android tablets. Many Android apps that can run on tablets are often stretched-out versions of smartphone apps that don’t truly take advantage of the extra screen space.