CJ Frost, Technical Evangelist for Amazon Kindle, is our guest blogger for this post.
Kindle Fire tablets are designed to be rich content consumption devices. To make sure your app supports this goal and provides the best user experience, keep in mind that you are building for a tablet, not a smartphone. Many apps are derived from existing Android smartphone apps and do not scale well to the tablet form factor. Scaled apps generally do not look as good as dedicated tablet apps and are feature-limited when compared to a similar app designed specifically for a tablet environment. These scaled apps can also suffer from significant degradation in graphics quality as the UI and elements are dynamically scaled up, by the Android platform, to fit the screen.
Optimizing your app for tablets offers numerous benefits. It enables you to offer a rich,easy-to-navigate, and more detailed user experience, allows you to optimize user engagement, and can potentially improve your monetization opportunities.
To help you create the best user experience for both small and larger screened devices, we've put together a list of our top phone-to-tablet app development tips.
Exploit the real estate.
Apps that are scaled up from a smaller screen size generally do not look as good as dedicated tablet apps and are feature-limited when compared to a similar app designed specifically for a tablet environment.
For example, many mobile phone apps are designed as lists of items (e.g., postings, photos) that link to new pages. When viewed on a Kindle Fire tablet, these apps appear feature-limited compared to a similar app designed specifically for a tablet environment. The lists do not fill the screen, nor do they take advantage of the potential user experience features.Apps designed to be multi-pane leverage the screen real estate so users can directly open content they'd otherwise page to on a phone app.
For more information on how to design your app for larger screens, see the Android documentation on devicesand displays,planningfor multiple touchscreen sizes, and movingfrom multi-page to multi-pane designs.
Optimize for dynamic resizing.
Apps designed for phones tend to be created as portrait apps only. Apps designed for tablets are optimized to be viewed in portrait or landscape mode by providing orientation-specific layouts, as demonstrated in the Simple RSS Reader Sample,and re-size dynamically using the accelerometer to sense orientation.
Apps designed primarily for use on phones can also suffer from significant degradation in graphics quality as the UI and elements are dynamically scaled up, by the Android platform, to fit the screens of larger devices.
For more information on how to design your app for dynamic resizing, see the Android documentation on supportingdifferent screen sizes.
Design for interactivity.
Apps designed for phones are intended to be used with one hand and provide single-point touch elements with larger touch targets to accommodate thumb navigation. In contrast, apps designed for tablets are developed using multi-point touch elements that can accommodate tablet users'normal two-handed pinch-zoom and swipe actions, providing a richer and more dynamic user experience.
For more information on how to design your app for interactivity, see the Android documentation on making interactive views.
Increase your reach.
Apps designed for phones tend to provide a static representation of non-interactive content. Apps designed for tablets offer additional opportunities for interactivity and can help you extend the reach of your business by including partner content, such as ads or additional game offerings, as well as interactive applets, in a multi-pane design.
Kate Shoaf, Marketing and Public Relations leader at PlayTales, is our guest blogger for this post.
PlayTales is a world leader in children’s bookstore apps, that has expanded internationally, with offices in the USA, UK, Spain, Romania, and China. Founded in 2010, PlayTales develops and distributes interactive playable storybooks for children within the world’s leading children’s bookstore app for smartphones and tablets.
International distribution has become a prominent part of PlayTales’ business plan as we’ve realized the international market can open the door to millions of downloads for our apps. Although we developed the app with the intention of mainly distributing in the USA, China and the UK have become some of our top downloaders. We´ve developed and localized our app to cater to the needs of our various international customers.
Based on our experiences, there are several things developers should consider as they prepare and launch their applications:
A unique feature of our app is the several language options users can choose. The selected language of the application is based on the settings of the user’s device, but within the application itself, you can choose to view the stories in a different language. For example, all of your menus and links are in English, but you can easily view all stories in their Spanish version, French version, Italian version, and so on. We know our target users are interested in exposing their children to various languages so we’ve developed our app to make this possibility easily attainable.
If you look at this screen shot, you’ll notice that all menu items are in English, while the books are available in Spanish; a unique feature that caters to our target user.
Anyone can learn a new language, but when it comes to common phrases and appropriate expressions we’ve found that working with native speakers is the best method for localization. At PlayTales we translate our stories into eight different languages and there is no substitute for working with a native speaker. When translators become a part of your localization team, they understand the message and product quality you are trying to develop within your app.
With the current economic crises going on it seems that currencies all over the world are constantly on a roller coaster of changing value. Because our books are available in so many different countries, monitoring exchange rates has become an important pastime within the office. We deal with Dollars, Euros, Yuan, and Pounds and the constantly changing exchange rates have kept us on our toes. It is important to monitor the currencies you deal with because you can lose business if your prices are too high, and also miss opportunities to generate more revenue if your prices are too low. Monitor your money and don’t lose out on business because of this common mistake.
It’s almost impossible to release an app that is absolutely perfect. Listening to the comments of users can really help work out the kinks and improve your app. Within all PlayTales accounts, users have the option to directly contact our tech/localization team in whatever language they want. Because our translators work in-office, we are able to efficiently respond to everyone that contacts us in their native language. If you are going to have a multiple language app, make sure that your users can communicate with your tech team in their preferred language.
Adapt your app so that it can be accessed by potentially everyone. PlayTales started out as an app only accessible through iOS devices. But as tablets like the Kindle Fire were released, it became obvious that adapting our apps to function on these devices was necessary. After teaming up with Amazon, we’ve seen a great increase in our number of downloads. Amazon’s submission module makes submitting localized features such as texts, graphics, and user interfaces a simple and quick process. Using Amazon as a distribution platform has made our app easily attainable for tablet users and has given us a chance to enter a market we hadn’t considered before. Remember that iTunes is not your only resource; you can develop and adapt your apps to function on almost any device and consequently tap into new markets.
Distributing internationally is becoming a necessity for many developers who want to stay on top of the market. Know your target users and develop your app accordingly, remember to use native speakers to help with localization, monitor exchange rates, offer tech support in various languages, and adapt your app to a changing market. Following this advice may help you find the international success we’ve experienced. New technologies are spreading to every part of the world, and along with it the newest applications. Take advantage of this opportunity and go global.