Every Google app gets updates to the user interface of your Android tablet


At I/O 2022, Google announced that it will update more than 20 first-party apps for large screens in a show of its commitment to form factor. This will undoubtedly improve the experience of the current owners and aims to encourage other developers to do the same. Here’s every Google Android app that has a tablet update and what’s yet to come.

Google Apps with Tablet User Interfaces

  • Reverse chronological order, latest updates at the top

—Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides

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

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


Update 8/3Google announced last week that Drive and Docs/Sheets/Slide are getting improvements for tablets. Some features have been rolled out, including the ability to:

  • Drag images/text from another app (eg Chrome) and drop them into a document or spreadsheet cell. Similar to Google Keep.
  • In Google Drive, you can upload files by dragging and dropping them.
  • You can open two Drive instances side by side by opening the folder’s full 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, Documents, and Slides to select, cut, copy, paste, undo and redo.

—Google Drive and Keepأداة

Update 9/13: Google is improving the UI elements for Android tablets by making them larger given the additional screen space available. Drive (version 2.22.357.1) adds a row of shortcuts to the Drive Quick Actions tool that creates a new document in Docs, Sheets, or Slides. This home screen object also features the introduction of a new circular configuration.

Meanwhile, Google Keep’s Notes List widget (5.22.342.03.90) gets rid of the right sidebar for a dummy bottom bar in tight configurations. This matches the Gmail widget and lets you see more notes. However, you can still get the old design by increasing the width.

—Google TV

Update 8/28: Google TV was one of the apps slated to be redesigned at I/O. An optimized version for tablets is now available, but without the onstage Material Style. The primary change is a navigation rail with center tabs that replaces the bottom bar. We’re seeing this new look with version 4.33.60.17, which hasn’t been released widely yet, on our Chromebook.

Back in May, Google Slides depicted a much wider rail with rectangular pointers pointing to the current tab. Meanwhile, the Material You iteration is looking to redesign the app bar so it’s more fluid. The current layout is an issue with your Elements page where the top tabs are used.

youtube music

Update 6/6: The tablet improvement announced for YouTube Music is now rolling out at I/O 2022. It sees the big screen Android app getting a redesigned playlist view, which is a big part of the service. There is a two-column user interface where the cover photo and other details are 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 the latest YouTube Music tablet update, which earlier this year the team rolled out on their home feed to allow you to watch more content in the carousels (listen again, favourites, shuffle for you, etc.) scroll. Other improvements are in Now Playing (a two-column view with controls on the left and next queue on the right) and side-by-side settings.

-Wall Clock

Update 6/3: Google Clock 7.2 starts by introducing a left side navigation bar 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: Google Calculator 8.2 offers a two-column layout where you can always see your computational “history” on tablets and other big screen devices. Other parts of the user interface have been scaled back accordingly and this is particularly suitable for multitasking.

—Google Lens

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


—Google Photos

Google’s first Android tablet app is Google Photos, and this update rolled out in January of 2021. It’s not much different from the web user interface. Having the navigation rail on the left edge means you can see a bit more vertical content, while more tabs can be displayed – compared to the bottom bar – without looking cramped. In addition to Photos, Search, Sharing, and Library, you have quick access to On Device, Utilities, Archive, and Trash. One small item that Google has been tweaking in recent months is a pill-shaped indicator to note which tab you’re viewing rather than just highlighting the icon.

  • Google Photos Tablet
  • Google Photos Tablet

At the top of the screen, next to Google Photos, there is a search bar with rounded corners. When viewing a full screen image, swiping up shows the right pane while overflow in the top right corner of the viewer shows actions with accompanying icons.

– Google Calendar

I’ve already explained how Google Calendar is my favorite tablet app, mainly because of the great day and schedule displays where you see the entire month on the left with a list of events next to it while the background illustrations light up. The company does not appear to be planning any changes.

Although there is clear reuse from the website, the Calendar team has purposefully distinguished the app for tablets, which is a rarity for Google.

-Chrome

Chrome on Android tablets is almost identical to the desktop interface due to the use of tab bars and an omnibox layout. There is also support for multi-windows to help with multitasking.

YouTube

YouTube is fairly well optimized for tablets with two-column views all the time, and the Google I/O preview only shows the player screen. It can always be converted into a navigation rail.

-Google Translator

The tablet improvements have already been touted on stage. Overall, this app is better to have a few and a lot of spacing, due to its nature as a common (physical) interface/tool.

—Files by Google

—Google Podcasts


Google apps are getting more tweaks on the tablet

—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 panel.


Future Google Tablet Apps Updates

Google Android Tablet Apps
  • Google Translator: look above
  • maps: look above
  • Pictures: look above
  • family link: Instead of a navigation bar, Family Link appears to be using an always-appearing navigation drawer.
Google Android Tablet Apps
  • The Google residence: A central navigation bar, although it looks silly from just two tabs. A two-column layout could be better.
  • Gmail: Navigation bar with drawer button at the top to see your folders and labels.
  • Google TV: Navigation while you can select the next Highlights of the news feed As part of the broader material you’re redesigning.
  • Messages: Two-column layout, although it’s unclear if the UI shown above is more for foldable devices rather than tablets that require device pairing, such as Messages for Web.
Google Android Tablet Apps
  • google one: Navigation drawer with extensive use of cards in the body of the application.
  • youtube music: look above
  • google lens: Visual search today on tablets only works in portrait orientation.
  • Google Duo: central controls.
  • google apps: Like the pictures, there is a navigation rail and a top search field. Cards are used to show various menus and promotions.
Google Android Tablet Apps
  • google calculator: two-column layout.
  • google watch: The navigation rail is associated with a two-column format.

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