We all know that it’s important to test the different configurations of your app, but it’s really difficult to get *every* configuration. The power of Android is its diversity. However, I just added a powerful new tool to my arsenal when I got a Xoom WiFi.
I expected a similar experience to my Droid, just with the new bells and whistles of Honeycomb (Android 3.x), and of course the larger screen. That wasn’t what I got.
I was immediately most impressed by the speedy interface and some new UI elements (dubbed the ‘holographic interface’). Games are more fun to play on a larger screen (when they don’t crash because they haven’t been tested on a tablet – more on that later). Reading books and documents is nicer. All-in-all, it’s a very nice toy – and a useful business tool.
Immediate Business Benefit – Testing
However, the first thing I did after connecting up to my WiFi network was to download my first app, Droid Secret Tips. Oops – immediate force close.
Luckily, I had already fixed the most recent bug that the Android Developer Console had shown me. Only 2 crash reports had rolled in, so I thought it was a minor bug. However, after seeing exactly how this crash occurred… now I know what was happening. Any user who was on WiFi but had no phone network connection would trigger a bug I introduced recently.
That meant that every Wifi-only tablet was locked out of using my app, because it would force close. That’s right, I just excluded a large chunk of the market accidentally. I’m in the process of preparing a new release anyway, so this bug is on notice. Still, I would suggest all of you developers consider the WiFi-only device market in your testing, as I imagine it can only grow as we get more Android devices on the market.
Tablet users have had to face a lot of frustration from developers that didn’t plan for the new types of devices. Don’t be one of the problem developers – do your best to make your app tablet-proof, even if you don’t optimize for the larger screen and newer OS.
Other self-justifications for owning and Android Tablet
Having witnessed that bug firsthand, I figure I’ve already justified my purchase as a business need, even before you consider being able to check email from the couch or on the go (with greater ease than with my phone).
Beyond that, however, I had a few other expectations that required some work to figure out. See my previous post about getting video to work and getting files onto the device.
That being said, now that I resolved my frustrations I can recommend the Xoom to anyone needing a tablet. I can’t say that any other tablets won’t do the same job, but I like this one and think it will get the job done for you.
Even if you’re not going to buy a tablet, keep in mind that Android 3.x tablets are going to change how users use their Android device. I’m learning a lot just from observing how I use my tablet differently than my phone, and I hope to roll that into a Honeycomb-targeted app at some point soon. Stay tuned here and sign up to my newsletter (the BrainCast) to hear what I discover for tablet development.