Android 4.1 Comes in Three Flavors
During the unveiling of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google demonstrated the new user interface (UI) on the Nexus 7 which closely resembled the layout of an Android smartphone. If you have noticed, the home screen is designed to be used in portrait mode, unlike the traditional landscape UI seen on Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich tablets. Does this mean that there are going to be different UI layouts for different Android devices?
Well, a Google spokesperson confirmed to ComputerWorld that Android 4.1 will adapt itself to the device according to what Google sees as the optimal user experience for that particular screen size. In other words, there will be one version of Jelly Bean designed for smartphones, one for 10-inch tablets and another one for 7-inch tablets. Since Jelly Bean debuted on the Nexus 7 tablet, it is hardly any surprise that the OS is specifically optimized for 7-inch tablets.
Will this lead to more fragmentation within the Android platform? Android engineer Dianne Hackborn doesn't think so, as long as developers code their apps properly:
For developers, when designing your app to scale up from its phone UI, this mostly means you should pick the break point at which any major change in your layout should occur and let the layout managers take care of all of the sizes in-between. ...
Android's density scaling was designed to be able to support arbitrary densities, by including the concept of density in all of the UI specifications of the application (bitmaps, measurements, etc) and using layout managers for final pixel-accurate placement of UI elements. ...
You don't need to supply bitmaps for every possible density; Android will scale your bitmaps (typically when they are loaded) to match the current density.
Whether or not developers code their apps properly is another issue altogether. It is likely that the Android platform will continue to be plagued with fragmentation issues as only 10.9% of current Android devices are running on Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean is expected to be released in mid-July.