Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 00:38 UTC
Android

There's a new Android tablet you can go and buy, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. Here's our review of it, where Jake notes that apps freeze if they're not in the foreground. Which is a good reminder: Android apps on tablets have never really been very good. They usually end up feeling like stretched-out phone apps.

Things have gotten better in the past couple years, but it's still a problem. In fact, it has always been a problem. I wonder if anybody ever told Google that it was a problem and it should try to do a better job incentivizing developers to make apps that work better on tablets.

Oh, wait, somebody has.

Brutal, but true.

Devil's advocate take: since tablets don't matter, do tablet apps really matter?

Order by: Score:
Unfair
by WorknMan on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 01:11 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

Like a commenter in that article, I don't have much of a problem finding optimized tablet apps on Android. Perhaps the number isn't as huge as it is on iOS, but I get by just fine.

Also, in regard to this comment:

But unfortunately, multitasking is still far from elegant, and it's what separates this device the most from a "real" computer.


I've been seeing this a lot lately - it was pretty much understood back when iPad put tablets on the map that they were essentially consumption devices, but now people suddenly think they should be laptop replacements? Really, if I wanted a f-king laptop, I'd go out and buy one. And if I wanted a Windows PC with a touch screen, I'd buy a surface. And there seems to be plenty of hybrids now days, for those that are into that kind of thing.

What I really want is a high-end, 8" tablet, something that nobody is making anymore but Apple.

Edited 2017-03-23 01:13 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Unfair
by tidux on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 02:30 UTC in reply to "Unfair"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

Termux (or in a pinch, an SSH app like VX Connectbot) solves the productivity problem. It gives me a fullscreen terminal environment, a media player, and a fullscreen browser I can switch between at will, much like how I use a tiling window manager on a 10-12" GNU/Linux or BSD laptop. Add a bluetooth or USB keyboard and I'm happy.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Unfair
by drcouzelis on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 14:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Unfair"
drcouzelis Member since:
2010-01-11

Wait, there's a media player and browser available through Termux?? I assume you install them using the included package manager? What are the packages called?

I love Termux, and use it mostly for the "youtube-dl" command. For more "serious" work, I SSH to my computer at home using ConnectBot.

Anything that makes my first Android phone feel more like my Nokia N900 or my Jolla Mobile is a win to me! ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Unfair
by tidux on Sat 25th Mar 2017 16:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Unfair"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

Android itself has packages for VLC, mpv, and Firefox. No need to go inside Termux for that, especially not with the Termux:API extension that lets it speak to other apps.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Unfair
by fmaxwell on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 14:11 UTC in reply to "Unfair"
fmaxwell Member since:
2005-11-13

I've been seeing this a lot lately - it was pretty much understood back when iPad put tablets on the map that they were essentially consumption devices, but now people suddenly think they should be laptop replacements? Really, if I wanted a f-king laptop, I'd go out and buy one.


I'm with you 100%. I don't want to run desktop/laptop apps on a tablet, which is why the Surface totally sucks. Microsoft made it easy for companies to be lazy and not build tablet-specific apps for use with a touchscreen-based tablet. So you have all of these Windows apps with controls that work fine with precise mouse cursors but that are way too small for big, fat fingers which often cover multiple controls at a time.

What I really want is a high-end, 8" tablet, something that nobody is making anymore but Apple.


And there is no shortage of iPad-specific apps that take full advantage of the screen real estate, sizing buttons and controls appropriately for the device and touchscreen interface.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Unfair
by Flatland_Spider on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 14:50 UTC in reply to "Unfair"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

Remember when tech writers were technical and not English majors with a gadget fetish?

now people suddenly think they should be laptop replacements?


People like the long battery life, instant on functionality, and appliance nature of the OS. That is all most people want, and that's all most people can handle.

Most people, just want a communications appliance. Web browser, word processor, email, messaging, file sharing. They don't want to know how to clear malware out of the registry or how to tweak the windows manager. They don't want to be IT experts; they want someone else to an IT expert and deliver what they want to them.

Full fat OSes are a handful to manage. They're flexible and awesome, but they require knowledge to really run well and safely. As much as people deride ChromeOS and G Suite, it really strikes a good balance between being full featured and simple for the general public. It drives tech tweakers nuts, but it's not for them.

Reply Score: 1

Honey comb anyone
by missingxtension on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 02:06 UTC
missingxtension
Member since:
2011-01-14

The main problem is that google unified the tablet interfaces with the phone interface. There is nothing wrong with keeping the turkey and ham separate. I actually prefer the tablet optimized version on my phone. A good example is maxthon for tablets. "Android "Honeycomb" is a codename for the Android platform that was designed for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets. ", they seemed to have confused screen size with dpi

Reply Score: 2

Devil's advocate
by emphyrio on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 04:30 UTC
emphyrio
Member since:
2007-09-11

The question is whether apps matter. Too lazy to go for the references, but I seem to remember that, even on the smafo, most people don't install any apps after the usual facebook, messenger, twitter, whatsapp crap. Don't recall if games were included in that research.

Reply Score: 2

Blame the developers
by marco.nilsson on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 04:54 UTC
marco.nilsson
Member since:
2016-02-17

Google have supported and promoted adaptations to large screens using the Fragments API since Android 3.0. That's 6 years ago. Other than blockin non-Fragment apps on larger screens I'm not sure what more they could do.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Blame the developers
by moondevil on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 08:05 UTC in reply to "Blame the developers"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

That is exactly the problem, the Fragments API is a mess.

To the point they were forced to do a one hour talk about them at Google IO 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3IT-IJ0J98

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Blame the developers
by Kochise on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 11:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Blame the developers"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

That doesn't change much the fact that what the article describes is a lack of apps, not a lack of motivation from Google's side.

Perhaps some apis are subpar regarding tablet support, yet there are other points to focus on if you really want to analyze what cause the absence of tablet optimized appps on Android.

The system is there since Honeycomb, it has evolved, been optimized, yet the iOS counterpart benefit from a better professional and educational traction.

ChromeOS looks like a more promising platform for the tablet form factor, let's see what happens after the second merge (the first being honeycomb and ginger bread to give ice cream sandwich)

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Blame the developers
by kurkosdr on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 12:41 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Blame the developers"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

That doesn't change much the fact that what the article describes is a lack of apps, not a lack of motivation from Google's side.


Maybe if Google bothered to make their own Gmail and Play Store apps more tablet-friendly, others would follow suit. In fact, the "Material Design" redesign of those apps was a regression compared to HoneyComb and Fragments.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Blame the developers
by Kochise on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 14:24 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Blame the developers"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Don't tell me app developers are so shy they are waiting for Google to make the first move. Aren't they capable of 'innovation' ? Is that exclusive to iOS application developers ?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Blame the developers
by kurkosdr on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 09:41 UTC in reply to "Blame the developers"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

Google have supported and promoted adaptations to large screens using the Fragments API since Android 3.0. That's 6 years ago. Other than blockin non-Fragment apps on larger screens I'm not sure what more they could do.

Fragments API doesn't guarantee a tablet-friendly interface. At the very least, you can pillar-box your phone app and lo and behold, every algorithmic analysis Google could do on your phone will show it as "tablet-friendly".

And anyway, Fragments is old, it's all about "Material Design" now, aka making every app look like a responsive web page. But still, there is nothing obligating you to make your app actually responsive, even Google's own GMail app isn't.

Google has overlooked the tablet form factor, and with the latest move to hybrid laptops (either running an upgunned tablet OS like the iPad Pro or a real desktop OS like the Surface Pro), this could cost Google the next form factor.

Reply Score: 3

Whatever
by jbauer on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 14:07 UTC
jbauer
Member since:
2005-07-06

Personally I don't have trouble finding proper tablet apps either.

And while I won't try to deny that Google has mismanaged tablets horribly in pure Google fashion, this is just another example of how the media consistently gets Apple a pass while crucifying all else. Nobody ever said the iPad was a lousy tablet when it didn't offer multiwindow. Even more funny is the fact that when they finally implemented it, the super-highly-optimised iPad Air which would never require more than 1GB of RAM couldn't run it.

Reply Score: 5

Comment by Flatland_Spider
by Flatland_Spider on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 15:30 UTC
Flatland_Spider
Member since:
2006-09-01

Tablets don't matter, and Android tablets will still be awful this year and next year.

Google, correctly, had ChromeOS pinned as it's 'tweener OS. It's has all the features of a tablet, but it's in a laptop form factor. Keyboard, long battery life, quick boot, sealed OS, minimal knobs, long standby time, wireless connectivity, cloud syncing, and ability for apps and files to be restored from the cloud. Not surprisingly, this is exactly what the general public wants from an OS, and most IT departments really.

There are two devices that have people have decided they need: a laptop, a smartphone. They would love to have just one device, but the time when people can dock their smartphone isn't here yet.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by fmaxwell
by fmaxwell on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 17:47 UTC in reply to "Comment by Flatland_Spider"
fmaxwell Member since:
2005-11-13

Tablets don't matter, and Android tablets will still be awful this year and next year.
...
There are two devices that people have decided they need: a laptop, a smartphone. They would love to have just one device, but the time when people can dock their smartphone isn't here yet.

That's like saying that motorcycles don't matter because more people buy cars and bicycles. Apple sold more than 13 million iPads in the first quarter of 2017, generating more than $5.5 billion in revenue. If $5.5 billion dollars doesn't matter to you, could you toss ten or twenty million dollars my way when you get a chance?

Ask anyone who uses a full-size tablet for reading magazines or illustrated service/repair manuals if a smartphone or laptop would suit their needs. Ask airline pilots who rely on iPads for charts whether a smartphone or laptop would work out as well for them. As doctors, nurses, and medical students who rely on iPads during their hospital rounds whether they'd be okay with switching to phones or laptops (hint: no).

Much of the slowdown in sales is due to the market shifting from an initial acquisition phase to an upgrade phase: Many fewer people are buying their first tablet and many more are replacing older ones. But tablets tend to have a longer service life than smartphones and laptops, so the replacement cycle is longer. Tablets don't usually take the abuse and wear that a smartphone does and they don't normally run software that taxes their CPUs and GPUs, so people hold on to them for a long time.

But, yes, you're right: Android tablets suck and will continue to in the future. Google never had a vision for the product and it turned into a big smartphone that couldn't make calls. Many Android phones are now enormous "phablets" while most Android tablets have remained small (for tablets) to keep the cost down for a price sensitive audience. The wide range of processor types and speeds, RAM quantity, screen size, GPU performance, and OS version has made developing tablet-specific apps for Android to be a labor of love rather than a profit-making venture.

Edited 2017-03-23 17:55 UTC

Reply Score: 2

v RE: Comment by fmaxwell
by Sabon on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 18:32 UTC in reply to "Comment by fmaxwell"
RE[2]: Comment by fmaxwell
by darknexus on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 18:59 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by fmaxwell"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

iPads work if you adjust the way you do things. I did. I adjusted to apps that let me remotely use them through keyboard only commands.


Ah, I see my guess is correct. ;)
Question, what remote control software do you use that provides true keyboard support? I use LogMeIn Pro and, while I like it, one thing is that if I need a key combination I have to use the on-screen modifiers rather than the keys on my actual keyboard. It's not a huge inconvenience, however I'd gladly do away with any minor inconveniences. On the other hand, Prompt2 by Panic does support the full array of keyboard commands. Unfortunately, I end up doing admin mostly on Windows servers where Prompt2 won't help ;) .

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by fmaxwell
by fmaxwell on Fri 24th Mar 2017 18:11 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by fmaxwell"
fmaxwell Member since:
2005-11-13

Well you know that iPads can do everything you need to do if you just adjust the way you do them.


The issue isn't whether you can do something on a given device -- it's how efficiently you can do it. Yes, I can read a service manual for an amplifier on my iPhone by blowing the text up large enough to read and scrolling around on the page, but it's far from an efficient (or pleasant) way of doing things.

I own an iPhone, iPad, two MacBooks, two Mac Pros, and multiple non-Apple desktop and laptop computers running several different operating systems -- because no one device is equally suitable for all tasks.

Reply Score: 3

"Quit trying to make fetch happen." :)
by Flatland_Spider on Fri 24th Mar 2017 00:51 UTC in reply to "Comment by fmaxwell"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

Why doesn't everyone have a tablet then? Why do people choose laptops and phones as the two essential computing devices in life?

"Apple sold 78.29 million iPhones in Q1 2017, generating revenue of $54.378bn. Both figures are up 5 percent on the same quarter a year ago." -- Macworld (http://www.macworld.co.uk/news/apple/apple-q1-2017-financial-result..., http://www.macworld.com/article/3163463/macs/apples-q1-2017-records...)

13 million iPads vs 78.29 million iPhones. $5.5bn vs $54.378bn. Plus iPhone sales are up 5%. That is in no way a competitive race.

Motorcycles don't matter in the transportation landscape. They're a niche product like tablets. In fact, the only thing that matters in the automotive market are CUVs and trucks.

Bicycles are the basic flip phone of the transportation world, and they will continue to sell in volumes that make everyone jealous.

The mobile landscape has changed. Phones have grown bigger, and websites are now predominantly mobile first. Tablets made more sense when websites were built for desktop resolutions, and it was a painful experience using them on a small phone. With the larger phone sizes and technology advances, it's a pleasant experience.

Next, people make choices on how to spend their income, and a tablet doesn't make the cut. Tablets have a market, but the market is small. They've pretty much hit their ceiling. As you pointed out, the market is shifting into a replacement phase, which means the market is as big as it's going to get.

Motorcycles are a good example. They're a lifestyle product. People have disposable income, so they buy a motorcycle. When money is tight, people will buy the bare essentials, which is a car or truck because the offer more utility and better insurance rates. Smartphones meet the needs of most people for small portable consumption device.

I'm not saying tablets don't have a place. They do, but outside of those niches they don't make a lot of sense.

Edited 2017-03-24 00:52 UTC

Reply Score: 3

fmaxwell Member since:
2005-11-13

Why doesn't everyone have a tablet then?

Because most people don't have very sophisticated needs or substantial amounts of discretionary income.

Why do people choose laptops and phones as the two essential computing devices in life?

In 2016, there were more tablets sold than laptops. So if you want to count only the two highest selling classes of computing devices as relevant, then that would smartphones and tablets.

13 million iPads vs 78.29 million iPhones. $5.5bn vs $54.378bn. Plus iPhone sales are up 5%. That is in no way a competitive race.

There isn't a "race." They are two different devices that have both distinct and overlapping functions.

You might as well declare socket wrenches irrelevant because there are more pairs of pliers sold.

Motorcycles don't matter in the transportation landscape.

The sales of motorcycles is a multi-billion dollar industry that supports thousands of businesses and jobs. They are the primary source of motorized transportation in many countries.

The mobile landscape has changed. Phones have grown bigger, and websites are now predominantly mobile first.

Nope. Websites are now responsive, serving up neutered versions for the people using smartphones. I'm sitting in front of a pair of monitors measuring 30" and 24" respectively. I've got a smartphone and an iPad and if you think that you're getting as good an experience with your smartphone as you would with a full size tablet, then you are quite mistaken.

Tablets made more sense when websites were built for desktop resolutions, and it was a painful experience using them on a small phone. With the larger phone sizes and technology advances, it's a pleasant experience.

Viewing websites on smartphones is a pain in the butt for anything other than the most mundane tasks (comparing prices, reading tweets, getting weather forecasts, finding out what hours a merchant is open, etc.). Try servicing an audio amplifier with a schematic diagram displayed on a smartphone. Try flying a plane with charts on a smartphone (but, please, not over my house). Try reading a magazine that includes plans, diagrams, cutaway art, etc. on a smartphone; I mean the real magazine layout, via Zino or equivalent, not some web site associated with the magazine.

Next, people make choices on how to spend their income, and a tablet doesn't make the cut. Tablets have a market, but the market is small.

Apparently what doesn't make the cut is a laptop computer, since tablets outsold, and continue to outsell, them.

They've pretty much hit their ceiling. As you pointed out, the market is shifting into a replacement phase, which means the market is as big as it's going to get.

And it's a pretty darned big market with projected sales of 165 million units worldwide in 2017 (according to Deloitte Consulting LLP).

Motorcycles are a good example. They're a lifestyle product. People have disposable income, so they buy a motorcycle. When money is tight, people will buy the bare essentials, which is a car or truck because the offer more utility and better insurance rates. Smartphones meet the needs of most people for small portable consumption device.

Tell some family in India that their sole means of transportation to and from the market is a "lifestyle product."

Reply Score: 2

You may make Android better
by birdie on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 15:34 UTC
birdie
Member since:
2014-07-15

If you care about Android vote for this list please:

https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=262613

(Just click the star).

Reply Score: 1

Sabon
Member since:
2005-07-06

I can do almost all my work using my tablet.

1) I have to create many documents. Many of them technical and they have to look good. Check
2) I have to manage quite a few spreadsheets with hundreds if not thousands of rows and a couple hundred columns. Check
3) I program. I'm able to remote into my work computer from anywhere that I have an internet connection. And through that I can code and compile and test my programs. Check
4) The programs on my tablet have to look good if not great. Check
5) My tablet is less than half the weight of my lightest laptop. Check
6) My tablet has to use high speed internet to great effect. Check

I could go on and on. My tablet has replaced my other mobile devices (except for my phone) except for those cases where I --know-- that I will either not have an internet connection or it will be a poor one.

No it isn't an android tablet. I'll leave you to guess for yourself.

I talk to computer dinosaurs all the time. They feel that tablets can't be used for most things that people do every day. They can if you think outside the box and aren't stuck to doing things the same way that you've always done it. Adjust or die. I constantly adjust and I profit from it.

I could go on. I rarely lug my laptop around anymore. Why bother? I can do everything either directly on my tablet or I can login to VPN and do it remotely through my tablet. It helps that my remote programs that I use can be manipulated solely through keyboard commands. Yours can't? Maybe you are using the wrong desktop apps. Just saying.

My back and shoulders no longer hurt like they used to. It's a very freeing experience. Learn to adapt. It works.

Reply Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

No it isn't an android tablet. I'll leave you to guess for yourself.


I suspect you've made the same decision I did. As a bonus, I can even get it with a built-in LTE radio! That ought to narrow it down a bit, for those who are still guessing.
The only time I lug my laptop anymore is when I know I'll have to configure network devices via Ethernet. Yes, my tablet can be rigged to sort of work with ethernet, however I can't assign the ethernet's IP address when a static IP is needed. If I could do that, I wouldn't even need my laptop for that.
One thing though, I absolutely use a keyboard. No touch screen system currently can replace the fast typing I can do with a real keyboard. Perhaps one day, but not yet.

Reply Score: 2

Tablets last a LONG time
by wocowboy on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 21:01 UTC
wocowboy
Member since:
2006-06-01

I don't put any stock in the "iPad is doomed" posts I see around the internet. The truth is, they last for years and years, working just fine the entire time, and I, and evidently lots of other people, just don't see a need to replace them every year, or every 2 years, or 3, etc etc. I have an iPad I have had since 2013 and I see no need to replace it yet. That time will eventually come when it slows down to the point I can't stand it or it dies, whichever comes first, and then I will buy another one.

I have looked at Android tablets and they don't appeal to me at all, because of all the reasons stated in the two Verge articles and in others' posts here.

Edited 2017-03-23 21:02 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Tablets...
by bryanv on Thu 23rd Mar 2017 22:10 UTC
bryanv
Member since:
2005-08-26

matter about as much as Haiku OS.

I die a little inside every time I admit it.

Reply Score: 2

Kids.
by willm.wade on Fri 24th Mar 2017 12:13 UTC
willm.wade
Member since:
2010-07-13

I live in a house with two heavy Android tablet users. They also happen to be 8 and 5 years old. They have been Android tablet users since just after the HP Touchpad fire sale. One of the tablets they use is still an HP Touchpad! I call that fairly good life for today.

We also use the tablets for comic books at storytime and some YouTube from time to time. The kids have a ton of games and most of them are free. The LEGO games alone would be worth it.

My point is that just because you don't have a use for it doesn't mean others don't.

Reply Score: 2

Very Nice
by nathanellis on Mon 27th Mar 2017 10:32 UTC
nathanellis
Member since:
2017-03-27

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Reply Score: 1