Here’s something interesting that I read today, although only the geeks will be interested in this. Back in June 27 when the Nexus 7 was being launched, people were wondering if the brand-spanking new 7″ tablet was sporting the phone UI. This was because the interface seemed to be borrowing some things from the phone UI despite featuring the familiar paneled app layouts of Honeycomb and ICS.
Apparently, that’s not the case as Jelly Bean 4.1 has actually been optimized for 3 different UI layouts so that everything looks good, regardless of the size of the device you owned. When it came to Android, the choices developers had were limited to either the phone or tablet UI. However, the landscape-oriented tablet UI seemed a bit awkward on smallish 7″ screens, which is why Jelly Bean has a 3rd UI layout for smaller screens that combines the best of the phone and tablet UIs. For example, you can pull down the notification area on a 7″ tablet, similar to the way you would on a phone. However, the UI for 7″ screens will be portrait-oriented and the navigation softkeys will occupy the entire bottom strip of the screen rather than just to the side (see above for comparison).
That’s all great for the consumer, since Jelly Bean is bound to look good no matter what kind of device you own, but Android developers might treat this bit of news with apprehension. Will this mean that any apps that will be developed have to be optimized for that 3rd UI layout as well? Actually no, as long as the apps are properly coded. Rather than supply a bitmap for every possible screen size and density, the Android SDK allows developers to specify break points so that the built-in layout managers can automatically scale apps to size. Sounds like gibberish? Doesn’t really matter. It just means that it’ll be easier to use Jelly Bean 4.1 on a 7″ device than it would if you were still using Honeycomb or ICS.