Google is rolling out much-needed upgrades to its Android tablet apps, the company has announced, as it tries to make them work better on devices with larger screens. Updates are coming for apps like Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Keep, and Google’s announcement says they should arrive within the next few weeks.
Docs, Sheets, and Drive are updated to support drag-and-drop, allowing you to easily pull things like text and images from one app to another. Meanwhile, Drive gets the ability to open two files side-by-side, similar to the functionality Apple brought to iPad with the 2019 iPadOS update. Keyboard shortcuts are also coming to Drive, Docs, and Slides, which should make them much more efficient to use for anyone with a Bluetooth or wired keyboard connected to their Android tablet.
The updates come as Google has taken a renewed interest in Android tablets over the past year. In early 2022, Android 12L was released, an OS update optimized for large-screen Android devices such as tablets and foldables. So at its I/O Developer Conference in May, the company said it was working to improve the app ecosystem for Android tablets. He said he was working with third-party developers to better optimize apps like TikTok, Zoom and Facebook and would release updates for more than 20 of his own apps — including some we see today.
There are a few different theories as to why Google is now paying more attention to Android on tablets after arguably leaving that area of development on the back burner for years. First, Google plans to make a big comeback to the Android tablet market next year, releasing its own tablet for the first time since 2018’s disappointing Google Pixel slate. Investing in its tablet app ecosystem now will inevitably help the chances of this tablet when it is released. This will also benefit other Android tablet manufacturers who will see the software on their devices improve.
There’s also the ever-growing market for foldables, which relies on software optimized for large-screen devices (aka tablets) to make the most of increased screen real estate. While these are still niche devices in the context of the broader smartphone market, interest continues to grow. Samsung recently announced that the industry shipped 10 million foldable devices last year, a 300% increase from 2020. And there have been persistent rumors that Google is developing its own foldable device. .
Whether or not these larger plans come to fruition, Android tablet owners will no doubt be grateful for these more convenient upgrades here and now.