Tablet App vs Smartphone App Design Tips

tablet.pngI have previously commented on the Implications of App Use on App Design and questioned whether ‘snacking’ is as equally applicable to tablet apps. I am seeing a growing number of people thinking about making their Android apps more tablet friendly as opposed to just providing a tablet-esqe view on what was a smartphone app. I am also seeing people re-thinking their functionality and UI when porting to the Android tablet from iPhone and iPad. Here are some observations and tips…

  • First of all, do you really need an app? People tend to go to the web first on the tablet. People use apps on smartphones because they make information easier to digest. This advantage is less so on tablets. If you decide on a tablet app then it needs to be compelling and generally needs to do a lot more than the smartphone version.
  • Unlike smartphones, tablets tend to be shared devices. This means you might need to think about providing for multiple users.
  • Think about what you mean by a tablet. Some low end tablets have lower resolution tablet screens (e.g. 800×480) and depending on your app, it might be best to display in the same way as on a smartphone.
  • A large proportion of tablets are WiFi only. You might need to re-think communication if you use SMS or voice in your app. 
  • A tablet is usually a second mobile device. You might need to consider sync of settings and/or data between the same app on different devices.
As an aside, if you decide to go for just a web site, test to make sure it works. I am tired of visiting sites on the tablet and them providing a mobile optimised version that doesn’t work well or fully. There tends to be a ‘show full web’ version link at the bottom that, in many cases, seems to eventually cycle back to the mobile version.