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Android 12L: thinking about big screens

With Android 12L, Google takes a step that I find very interesting, plus overall good news. And, as I have already commented on more than one occasion, I cannot finish explaining the lack of a broader market for high-end Android tablets. Apple has been demonstrating for years, with the different versions of the iPad, that there is demand for devices of this type, but so far the response from its competitors has been quite limited.

Maybe it had to do with the fact that Android has always been more optimized for smartphones than for tablets? Obviously I am not saying that this is the main reason, but I do not rule out that it has something to do with it, and that Android 12L can be a breakthrough in this regard. And it is that this reminds me of the early days, when the operating system and apps, especially apps, for the first generation iPad seemed (or were directly) a scaled version of those of the iPhone. It was well below what you would expect, and Apple was smart about fixing that.

But hey, what is Android 12L? It is very likely that you are wondering right now, and it is that this function (Google defines it that way, although later we will see if it is just that or something else) of Android 12 aimed at optimizing the user experience on devices with large screens, tablets and folding, we can read on their website. They do not claim that it is exclusive for these devices, yes, but it will substantially improve the experience of using them.

For this purpose, and in parallel with your ad, Google has already made a preview of Android 12L available to developers, along with the tools that will be available to you to readjust the design of your apps, with specific screen composition elements for larger screens in which, for example (and probably the clearest) a layout of two or even three columns makes a lot more sense than on a smartphone.

Another improvement in which Android 12L will abound is in multitaskingto. And it is that yes, it is true that Android already has split-screen functions since version seven, if I remember correctly, but the problem is that the interfaces of these apps are not, in many cases, for that type of use. which makes it not a comfortable system to use it intensively. With 12L, Google aims to improve that experience with a taskbar that makes it easy to quickly switch the app or apps that are displayed on the screen, in a similar way to what desktop operating systems offer.

At the moment Google has only indicated that Android 12L will reach end users next year, without even indicating if it will be in the first or second half of the year. However, it makes sense that it allows developers a certain margin to adapt their apps to this new function, and it would be a most frustrating experience to get to the day of its launch, and that the entire design proposal for large screens remains only in the operating system, with apps that are still optimized for smartphones only.

For some years, Google almost gave the impression of having “given up” on both the wearable and tablet markets. The first taste of that something has changed in this regard We had it in May, at this year’s Google I / O, in which after the presentation of Android 12 the company announced WearOS 4. The second we have today with Android 12L. Both ads, seen together, sound like a new assault, in which Google will try to make things a bit more difficult for Apple. A competition in which, without a doubt, users are the ones who have the most to win.

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Is Android 12L just a function?

Although Google defines it that way, and in the first instance it is possible that it reaches users that way, I have a hard time believing that Google’s plans stay there. We are living in golden times for ARMs and SoCs based on this architecture. More and more manufacturers want to have their own chips, and Apple’s excellent experience with its M1s has finished convincing the community that ARM is a laptop is more than possible. And would Google give up that market?

The answer we know perfectly well is a resounding no. And personally, Android 12L sounds to me not only a great step to improve the efficiency and usability of Android on tablets, but also a first movement especially aimed at this potential new market for laptops and convertibles with ARM chips.

And yes, I know, I haven’t forgotten about ChromeOS and Chromebooks. However, I think that it has become a niche solution, and that many users identify it that way. Meanwhile, Apple advances the convergence between iOS and macOS, Microsoft gave up Windows 10X and wants Windows 11 to be one operating system for everything. From this perspective, Don’t you think that Android 12L can be a first step towards a desktop Android?

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