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Samsung should have played a part in Google’s Android 12L for tablets

Opinion
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Last updated: April 20th, 2022 at 20:10 UTC+02:00

Samsung is the best Android tablet manufacturer around, but the sad reality is that, despite the powerful hardware, Android tablets lag massively behind Apple’s iPads in market share. Google, Android developers, and hardware manufacturers don’t seem to have cracked the tablet code entirely, but Android 12L could steer things in the right direction.

Android 12L was designed for big-screen devices like tablets and certain foldable phones. The main focus is multi-window features and other UI improvements that benefit multitasking and productivity. The update got released last month for Google’s Pixel phones, oddly enough, and hasn’t made its way onto any Galaxy tablets.

Samsung improves the Android tablet experience in other — but similar — ways. It has One UI on its side, and most tablets can take full advantage of the desktop-like DeX environment. The company’s own interpretation of a multi-window and productivity-friendly UI for Android 12 (sans “L”) on the Galaxy Tab S8 series is quite good.

So it seems as though an Android 12L update for Galaxy tablets might not be on Samsung’s list of top priorities right now. Or at least there’s no sign of an imminent release for Android 12L on any Galaxy tablets. The company doesn’t need Android 12L to create a tablet-friendly UI, so why bother?

Well, the main problem that has always plagued the Android tablet experience — and yes, that includes the Galaxy tablet lineup — is poor third-party app support for large-screen devices. That’s one other big fix Android 12L is supposed to bring, Google says. The L-branded OS should allow app developers to make UIs responsive to a wide range of screen sizes, device orientations, and other device states.

Given these benefits, I wish Samsung had played a part in the development of Android 12L, and in my opinion, it’s bizarre that a Samsung-Google collaboration didn’t happen.

Android 12L may have needed both Samsung and Google

Google doesn’t have a hardware platform for its own tablet-focused Android 12L update, which is probably why the OS debuted on the Pixel smartphone series. Meanwhile, the mighty Galaxy Tab S8 tablet series pushes hardware and build quality to new heights but suffers from the same old problem: poor support from app developers.

You would think that Samsung and Google would make great allies in the development of Android 12L, but Samsung didn’t participate in the beta, and no Galaxy tablet runs this OS version at the time of writing.

Samsung and Google even worked closely to develop Wear OS 3 for smartwatches. The Galaxy Watch 4 was the first smartwatch series to run Wear OS 3 at the expense of Tizen. And Samsung made that trade specifically to gain better app support.

Android 13 could change things for tablet users

I find it odd that Samsung and Google didn’t join forces and work together (or more closely) on Android 12L, given the Korean tech giant’s fantastic hardware in the tablet department and the absence of an Android tablet in Google’s product lineup.

Thankfully, Android 13 is supposed to include all the benefits of Android 12L, which means that Samsung’s tablets should eventually take advantage of these features and, dare we hope, better app support.

Nevertheless, this feels like a missed opportunity for Samsung and Google alike. Android 12L is wasting on Pixel phones, while the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the most powerful tablet ever created. It’s not like the usual yearly incremental upgrade, either. It is, in fact, the first Samsung “Ultra” tablet and theoretically competes with the iPad Pro 12.9.

Hopefully, Android 13 will change the Galaxy tablet experience for the better, even if Samsung didn’t have a part in Android 12L.

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OpinionTablet Android 12LAndroid 13AppleGalaxy Tab S8Galaxy Tab S8 UltraGoogle
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