Every Google app getting Android tablet UI updates

At I/O 2022, Google Announced which will update more than 20 of its proprietary apps for large screens in a show of its commitment to the form factor. this will definitely enhance the experience for existing owners and is intended to encourage other developers to do the same. Here are all the Google apps on Android that have an update for tablets and what’s to come.

Google apps with tablet user interfaces

  • Reverse chronological order, latest updates at the top

—Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides

Update 9/17: You can now open multiple instances of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides (version 1.22.342.08.90+) to view them side by side. However, getting them to that state is a bit of a manual process.

Open the first document, and then return to the Docs/Sheets/Slides app (using the system’s Recents multitasking menu) to launch the second. Reopen Recents and drag the first file to start the split screen. It’s not as easy as the “Open in new window” button in Drive, which has been renamed to “Open in split view” (and only works on folders).


Update 8/3: Google announced last week that Drive and Docs/Sheets/Slides are getting tablet optimizations. Some of the features have been implemented, including the ability to:

  • Drag images/text from another app (such as Chrome) and drop them into a cell in a document or spreadsheet. Similar to google keep.
  • In Google Drive, you can upload files by dragging and dropping them.
  • You can open two instances of Drive side by side by opening a folder’s additional menu and selecting “Open in new window.”
  • [Not live in our testing] “You can also add links to Drive files by dragging the file into an open app like Keep.”
  • Physical keyboard shortcuts in Drive, Docs, and Slides to select, cut, copy, paste, undo, and redo.

—Google Drive and Keep widgets

Update 9/13: Google is widget optimization for Android tablets by making them larger given the additional screen real estate available. Drive (with version 2.22.357.1) adds a row of shortcuts to the Drive quick actions widget that creates a new document in Docs, Sheets, or Slides. This home screen object is also notable for featuring a new circular configuration.

Meanwhile, the Google Keep Notes List widget (5.22.342.03.90) ditches the right sidebar for a fake bottom bar on narrow settings. This matches the Gmail widget and allows you to see more notes. However, you can still get the old layout by increasing the width.

-Google TV

Update 8/28: Google TV was one of the apps slated for a redesign at I/O. A version optimized for tablets is now available, but without the Material You styles shown on stage. The main change is a navigation rail with centered tabs replacing the bottom bar. We’re seeing this new look with version 4.33.60.17, not yet widely deployed, on a Chromebook.

In May, Google Slides displayed a much wider rail with oblong pointers pointing to your current tab. Meanwhile, the Material You iteration looks to redesign the app bar to be more fluid. The existing layout is an issue on the Your Stuff page where the top tabs are used.

-Music from Youtube

Update 6/6: Tablet optimization announced for YouTube Music at I/O 2022 is now unfolded. You see the Android app on large screens get a redesigned playlist view, which is a big part of the service. There is a two column user interface where the cover art and other details appear on the left and the song list is on the other side. [Update 6/30: The redesign was introduced to albums later on.]

This is just the latest tablet update for YouTube Music, with that gear starting early this year in the Home feed to allow you to see more content in carousels (Listen again, Your favorites, Mixed for you, etc.) without having to scroll. There are other optimizations in Now Playing (two column view with controls on the left and the Up next queue on the right) and side by side configurations.

-Clock

Update 6/3Note: Google Clock 7.2 starts with the introduction of a left-side navigation rail on tablets, which gives the app more vertical space as a result. The other big change is the use of two-column layouts, when in landscape orientation, throughout the app.

-Calculator

Update 5/25: Version 8.2 of the Google Calculator app brings a two-column layout where you can always see your calculation “History” on tablets and other large-screen devices. Other parts of the user interface are scaled down accordingly and this is particularly suitable for multitasking.

—Google Lens

Update 5/18: Version 13.19 of the Google app allows Google Lens to open in landscape mode. The visual search tool was previously restricted to portrait orientation on Android.


—Google Photos

Google’s main tablet app on Android is Google Photos, and this update was rolled out to January 2021. It is not very different from the web user interface. A navigation rail on the left edge means you can see a bit more vertical content, while more tabs can be displayed, compared to a bottom bar, without looking cramped. In addition to Photos, Search, Share, and Library, you have quick access to On Device, Utilities, File, and Trash. One little Material You tweak Google has made in recent months is a pill-shaped indicator to signal which tab you’re looking at instead of just highlighting the icon.

  • Google Photos Tablet
  • Google Photos Tablet

At the top of the screen, next to “Google Photos,” is a search bar with rounded corners. When viewing a photo full screen, swiping up reveals a panel on the right, while the overflow in the top right corner of the viewer shows actions with attached icons.

-Google Calendar

I have I already think how Google Calendar is my favorite tablet app, mainly because of the great Day and Schedule views where you see the full month on the left with a list of events next to it while illustrations animate the background. It’s does not appear that the company is planning any changes.

While there’s an obvious reuse of the website, the Calendar team has significantly differentiated the app for tablets, and that’s surprisingly rare for Google.

-Chrome

Chrome on Android tablets is nearly identical to the desktop interface due to the use of strip tabs and the Omnibox layout. There’s also support for multiple windows to help multitasking.

-Youtube

YouTube is pretty well optimized for tablets with two-column views at all times, and Google’s I/O preview only showed the player screen. I could always switch to a navigation rail.

-Google Translate

Translate already has the tablet optimizations touted on stage. In general, this application is best kept sparse and has a lot of space, given its nature as a (physically) shared interface/tool.

—Google Files

—Google Podcasts


Google apps get more tweaks for tablets

—Google Maps (see below)

Maps for Android already has a two-column view, but an upcoming update replaces the full-width bottom bar with one that fits in the left pane.


Future updates to the Google tablet app

Google Android Tablet Apps
  • Google Translate: see above
  • maps: see above
  • Photos: see above
  • family bondNote: Instead of a navigation rail, Family Link appears to be using a navigation drawer that is always displayed.
Google Android Tablet Apps
  • Google Home: Centered navigation rail, although it looks ridiculous with only two tabs. A two column layout might be better.
  • gmail: Navigation rail with a drawer button at the top to view your folders and labels.
  • google tv: Navigation rail while you can distinguish the next one Outstanding news as part of that broader redesign of Material You.
  • Messages: Two-column layout, though it’s not clear if the UI shown above is more designed for foldable devices than for tablets that require device pairing, like Messages for web.
Google Android Tablet Apps
  • google one: Card-intensive navigation drawer in the body of the app.
  • youtube music: see above
  • google lens: Current visual search on tablets only works in portrait orientation.
  • google duo: Centralized controls.
  • google play: Like Photos, there is a navigation lane and a top search field. Cards are used to display various lists and promotions.
Google Android Tablet Apps
  • google calculator: two-column layout.
  • google clock: Navigation rail paired with two column layout.

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