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Are we ready, is Google ready for 2k Phones?
Google has a problem. Its drawing closer to a new generation of screen resolution and one that its had its hands on for nearly two years and theyve demonstrated over and over again that they dont care about high resolution when combined with a tablet. Look, the Nexus 10 was a terrific device for its time but it was made better by the development community and never by Google itself.
- Nexus 10 was released with Android 4.2 and even then it was released with unfinished software. If you recall, the multi-user support and lock screen widgets didnt turn up until nearly a month and a half after release
- The 4.2.2 update is slow to the punch lagging by up to almost 10 days from official release on other Nexus Devices
- The 4.3 Launch nearly goes off without a hitch (Yay, go team go)
- The 4.4 release takes nearly a month to get to Nexus 10 users, and when it does the translucency effect (so you get full screen wallpapers and no black bars at the top and bottom of the screen) goes absent and then its noted by Google that there were some graphical glitches caused by applying the transparent barsand rather than fix the problem they just removed them. Thanks Big G.
Its with this spotted (at best) past that one starts to view Googles outlook on the high resolution wielding tablet as: Its great that we have this, but we dont really care about it. And not for nothing, Google has done nothing to improve the super high resolution ecosystem- despite the trend (sort of) catching onrather it felt kind of like Google looking at Apple and saying Hey look, we beat you at your resolution gamenow lets quit worrying about it all together. I suppose I understand why, if you look at the timeline where the Nexus 10 was released, 720p (or 1200*800 in Android land) was the defacto Android resolution, the next tablet push would go for the much lower target of 1900*1200 (Nexus 7 part deux) and the Nexus 10 always felt like an experiment that didnt have much in the way of legs past we out retinad Apple.
But there was a small amount of us who really enjoyed the higher resolution tablets and refused to go backwards. And of courseif theres any interest thered be OEMs to go after it Samsung certainly tossed their hat into the ring (it took them a year but they did) with the Galaxy Note 2014 edition, and then promptly followed it up with the Pro Line in late 2013 all of which support the native 2500*1600 of the Nexus 10. Even Asus threw their hate into the ringbut while all of the OEMs who tried have met with some success, theyve done so because theyve offered some compelling brand options (the wacom digitizer in the Notes and Pro lines, the keyboard doc of the Asus) rather than rely on Google to make them a more compelling offering and right they were to do so.
So why is there a Google problem? Because that insane, much un-cared for resolution range is about to hit phonesand Google just isnt ready with its current offering of services. LGs G3 represents the first of the so called QhD displays, coming in at 2560*1440, the G3 will sit squarely in the 2k screen resolution column that they can claim first, forand kudos to the for that. Samsung is sure to follow, then the game will slowly start to play out amongst the other IHVs over the next year as is the case when anyone does anything that relates to the words mile or stone. But is Google ready for this? My thinking is nobut not because they arbitrarily hate the resolutionbut because theyre going to have to rethink how they manage all the screen real estate in new and interesting waysthat over the last two yearstheyve not done one thing about.
To show you what I mean, Ive dummied up a number of screenshots. This is a completely unscientific demonstration, but I think my point still comes across. I used a Galaxy Note at 2500*1600 to illustrate the issue then tried to recreate the experience on a phone having had resized the images to a 6(ish) inch phone. Again, this is an imperfect analysisthe resolution (and thus aspect ratio) is a little off and I dont want to stretch it just to fill in screen space (so youll see a gap at the bottom of the screen where youd have more image and the overlapping soft keys). Ive tried my best to keep it as accurate as I can but its hard to do without an actual device to manage the little things like bezel maintenance, use of on screen buttons, etc) but have a look anyway.
I used some raw Google apps (Gmail, Hangouts, Keep, Chrome, Music) as well as two non-native apps (CNN and Quiz-up) to demonstrate the challenge I think Google (and other devs) are facing with a 2k device. How do you manage all of the screen real estate that a higher resolution affords while managing the small form factor of the device itself. To me it looks like the potential for a lot of wasted space if they apps remain in their current form, and since Im already looking at those apps running in native resolution on a 10 inch tablet.
Oddly, it looks like the non-native apps actually handle the resolution better though theres still some room for improvementbut thats not unexpected. Id really hope that LG has something up their sleeve to help compensate akin to what we saw come out of Samsung for apps like Twitter, which they worked with Twitter to create a Samsung specific large resolution tablet version of their app which works really well (and utilizes the extra resolution to a better user experience)but I suppose Im skeptical because of their lack of doing something like this in the past.
So I guess Im just looking to start a discussion here. Do you think Google (and/or LG) and its OS/User Base is ready for 2k on phones? If I had to answer for tablets Id have to give them a solid C+ but its up from a D, so thats something.