Apps are the new websites, it seems. If you’ve got a new company or a new service, you’ve gotta have an app. In many cases, depending on your core audience, if you’ve got an app, you don’t even need a particularly thrilling website. Some companies have taken the website and even boiled it down to a one page splash that links to where their app can be installed, along with some contact information. Chances are you’re not quite ready to jump in head first and focus your whole strategy on an app, but it’s still important to reach the widest audience possible. When you make the decision to make an app for Android, especially if you’re trying to reach a tablet-centric workflow, there’s a few things to keep in mind.
There’s a pretty heavy stigma when it comes to writing an app for Android tablets right now. There’s no unification in the platform, there’s a ton of different screen sizes, and things don’t really look the same from device to device. Believe it or not, that has absolutely no bearing on your app. Android was designed to exist in a little bit of chaos without affecting your app. If you’ve chosen to write an app that focuses on a tablet workflow, meaning that you’re designing a product that focuses on having a larger than 4 inch screen, you’re really only addressing a fraction of the Android ecosystem anyway. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially since that number grows daily. If developing an app is new for you anyway, it’s probably best for you to pick a niche and add workflow types and user groups as you expand, instead of trying to make one app to rule them all at the start.
My recommendation to anyone building an app for Android tablets right now is to focus very specifically on the Fragments API that has been meticulously laid out by Google. This construct was designed to allow developers to organize their content in such a way that it looks and functions great on every screen size. The Fragments API allows you to break your content down into individually usable sections that are able to float on the screen based on the best layout for that screen size. The end result, as long as you’ve actually organized your content correctly, is that every Android tablet supports your app.
There’s no need to invest in multiple tablets to make sure the app looks alright on every screen size, either. Your best bet is to invest in a single tablet, and use the emulator that is built into the Android SDK for everything else. As an added bonus, Android phones running version 4.0 and higher support Fragments, so when you find yourself ready to support phones as well as tablets, it is very simple to do so. You can find a complete breakdown of how to start using Fragments here.
Image by Flickr user Giftss