It should come as no surprise that the newest version of Google’s Android operating system, Jelly Bean 4.1, will have a different user interface when running on a tablet instead of a smartphone, since the OS is designed for both types of devices. But in a slightly more surprising move, Google has modified the UI of Jelly Bean to give it a unique layout depending on whether the OS is running on a 7-inch tablet or a 10-inch tablet.
Recently, ComputerWorld confirmed with Google that, despite the fact that the UI on the new Nexus 7 tablets resembles a phone-like layout, it’s actually a UI designed specifically for 7-inch tablets. 10-inch tablets, meanwhile, will adopt a layout similar to that found on tablets running Android 3.0 and later.
For those who weren’t fortunate enough to get their hands on a Nexus 7 tablet early when Google handed them out at its I/O conference last month, the UI on the tablet features a notification bar on the top of the screen, while the default home screen locks the display in portrait mode. Apps with multiple panes like the Gmail app, however, will work in landscape mode; for instance, in the Gmail app, your list of messages will be placed in a column on the left, while the body of the email will be displayed on the right.
This does raise questions of how the UI will be formatted for tablets that don’t fall into the 7- and 10-inch categories (e.g. 8.9-inch, 9.7-inch, etc.). But to avoid issues with fragmentation, Google’s developer tools will give devs the ability to code their apps in such a way that they automatically change their layouts depending on the screen size of the device.