One year later: Can Android 7.Zero OS Nougat save the Pixel C? 1

The Pixel C tablet has had a difficult existence. Under its code call of “Ryu,” the Pixel C commenced lifestyles within the Chrome OS open supply repository, seemingly indicating that at one factor, it changed into meant to run Chrome OS. Google has been experimenting with a touchscreen interface for Chrome OS to the point that an on-display screen keyboard (normally vain on a computer) shipped within the solid version. A completed model of an “all-contact” Chrome OS materialized by no means, even though we ended up with a Pixel C strolling every day Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

One year later: Can Android 7.Zero OS Nougat save the Pixel C?

The Pixel C became likely in no way alleged to run Android OS.

The result becomes a “productivity” device that can’t multitask. It would help if you were like a champ with the Pixel C’s keyboard, but Android’s one-app-at-a-time nature made things like referencing information while typing quite a lot impossible. The Pixel C became all the more disappointing because we knew a cut-up display screen mode was coming—an “incredibly experimental” model of the characteristic debuted in Marshmallow’s developer preview.
The split display wasn’t geared up for the Pixel C’s launch, though, which just fueled the sensation that the C turned into a 1/2-baked tool with a software program that wasn’t ready for the hardware it was running on. There had been other bad signs, too—the pill had four microphones on the pinnacle, which seemed to indicate it was built for a few kinds of killer voice popularity gadgets. Still, it didn’t even help continually on Google voice commands at release.

In a Reddit AMA hosted rapidly after the release of the Pixel C, the improvement crew’s reaction to questions turned into something along the strains of “simply wait until Android N!” With the patron version of Android N—Android 7.Zero Nougat—sooner or later, let’s take every other study of the Pixel C. A full eight months after its release, can Nougat save the Pixel C? What’s the popularity of Android tablets now that cut-up display has arrived? Is Android genuinely equipped for a tool with a hardware keyboard?

We’re nevertheless now not certain about hardware troubles.

This is my 1/3 Pixel C. The first tablet had limitless connection issues between the keyboard and tablet, and soon after the assessment, we received an alternative unit that finished an awful lot higher. After a few months of possession, unit #2 began randomly rebooting after protection replacement. Some long threads in the legitimate Google boards get into this, so mine wasn’t an isolated case.

Numerous OTAs arrived, or even the N developer preview. However, the random reboot trouble by no means went away. It was later located that replacing the hardware was the only way to fix the unanticipated reboot trouble. I omitted this and manually updated the Pixel C to the final version of Android 7. Zero Nougat promptly died, refusing to boot past the restoration display.

Time for replacement #3! So ways, things were first-rate.

Do Android pill apps still suck? (Spoiler alert: Yes)
The hooked-up expertise is that the app state of affairs on Android tablets is awful, but I hate repeating the installed knowledge year after yr without checking in on things now and again. So allow’s investigate.

In the 12 months of 2016, do Android tablet apps nonetheless suck? To answer this, I established the pinnacle of 2 hundred apps on Pixel C and gave them a brief check force. I checked out the apps handiest—not video games—using this “Top Apps simplest” Play Store list. The concept is the scale of that game is simply exceptional on drugs; it is apps that are the challenge.

Of the pinnacle two hundred apps:

Nineteen have been not compatible with the Pixel C
Sixty-9 did now not assist landscape in any respect
Eighty-four had been stretched-out cellphone apps
Twenty-eight were, with the aid of my judgment, actual “pill” apps
That there are few tablet apps isn’t a wonder to most people. What changed into a surprise was the shortage of landscape help in so many apps. More than 33 percent of the top two hundred had been all portrait, all of the time, and lots of extras (even some Google apps) had interstitials and different single screens that failed to help landscape.

FURTHER READINGPixel C review—New hardware ignores an Android tablet’s center problem: software program

Android apps are generally used on telephones, which might be frequently used in portrait mode. Pixel C lives in panorama mode. However—the cameras, physical buttons, microphones, and audio system are oriented to the landscape’s expectation. The tool should be in the landscape to use the physical keyboard. Compared to the cellphone marketplace, this rare configuration creates a problem in apps that the general public won’t note.
Most of the “cellphone” apps fall into three classes on a pill: there may be the scary stretched-out app, making no layout issues for a tablet. Then there are the “Card” apps that wish to scale nicely on pills by sticking the whole thing right into a card field, which then receives slotted right into a grid that suits your screen. The “pillar container” app also puts large margins at the left and right facets of a cellphone app, relieving a chunk of the “stretched-out cellphone app” issues. But none of those apps are extra powerful on a pill in the manner a multi-pane, pill-native app is.

One of the excellent pill app makers in the top 200 is Microsoft. Seeing why is simple. Google’s layout technique is to view tablets as massive phones. However, Microsoft views them as tiny computing devices and computer systems. As a result, you get killer variations of Word, Excel, Outlook, and Skype, with statistics-dense, multi-pane layouts.
Side-via-facet telephone apps aren’t bad; however, I want to update them.

Even as Android’s experience on a tablet continues to be made from apps with smartphone-centric layouts, going for walks of these apps’ aspects by the side isn’t always too terrible. Cut the Pixel C screen in half, an,d you get tall, skinny app areas, which can be very near a cellphone. The layouts work, you may multitask, and the entirety feels herbal. Your pill goes from running one large app at a time to being two smartphones duct-taped together.

The largest problem with the cut-up display on the Pixel C is the identical one we discussed in our standard Android assessment: developers have not especially to date their apps to be like-minded with a breakup display. This often affects apps being seen on the on-display screen but now not updating. When you’ve got apps open aspect by using facet, you touched final counts as the “foreground” app. Beyond Android variations, the simplest app changed into visible on-display right away, so how apps replied when they were not on the top of the app stack did not count—anybody ought to see them.

Now that you can see multiple apps, builders need to account for being the “secondary” on-display app—you are not the “foreground” pastime. However, you still want to preserve the UI going for walks. Most apps don’t account for this, but the second you tap from the left to the proper app, the left app stops updating a few or all of its user interfaces. This kills several cut-up display use instances that might be high-quality on a pill. Here at Ars’ digital HQ, having Slack open on one aspect of the display screen simultaneously as writing an article on the other facet could be high-quality. But Slack might not replace the UI with new chat messages until you interact with it. I do not see new notes while typing in another window. I should periodically tap on Slack to make it the foreground app, which updates the UI with a flood of messages I missed while I turned into typing. Thanks to the lack of developer aid for the split display screen, we have not long gone to 2 energetic applications on-screen. We’ve long gone from one active utility and one frozen screenshot.

Android’s core tablet interface peaked in Honeycomb.

Android tablets are messy when you are not on the split display screen, particularly regarding the middle-person interface created by using Google. Let’s say it: the tablet Android interface peaked in Android three. Zero Honeycomb. Honeycomb became the primary time—and it seems like the ultimate time—when a dressmaker sat down and asked, “What is the first-class viable tablet layout for this app?”

In Honeycomb, Google brought a gadget UI interface that blended the navigation and status bar into an unmarried bottom bar, making the UI appear designed around two-passed pill use. The navigation buttons had been within the backside left nook where your left thumb can utilize them, and the notifications had been inside the bottom proper, wherein they may be accessed with the aid of your right thumb. Recent Apps also had a custom pill interface with a listing of small, scrollable thumbnails designed for a bigger screen. Dual-pane layouts had been the same old, with a new “Fragments” API that allowed developers to recycle their telephone layouts by placing a couple of designs on-display screens, like an email inbox view on the left and a message view on the right. Google even experimented with more effective apps that allowed you to do more with a larger display screen, like Honeycomb’s built-in movie editor, designed from the ground up for pills.

Since Honeycomb’s preliminary release, Android tablet layouts have visible regression after regression, as “What is the satisfactory possible tablet layout for this app?” has given manner to “Now that the phone layout is achieved, if we’ve time perhaps we’ll upload larger left and right margins for pills.” The pill System UI format turned into replaced with a blind port of the cellphone UI. Ditto for Recent Apps, which shows as plenty records on a 10-inch screen as you’ll get on a five-inch smartphone because it’s the precise identical UI. The Play Store, Contacts, Settings, and Google Talk/Hangouts misplaced their dual-pane pill UI. Now they are just blown-up or pillar box smartphone UIs. With its huge display actual property, the tablet notification panel will be an excellent do-it-all command middle, providing you with all the context and controls you need to respond to a notification. Instead, it’s only a copy of the telephone interface. And that institution-up design of a film editor, particularly for pills, looks impossible for Google today.

Google seemed to care about drugs at some point during the initial release; however, it did not accompany the one’s ambitions. Maybe terrible sales of Honeycomb tablets made the agency considerably rethink its pill approach, with the shape factor plummeting down Google’s listing of priorities. However, Google continues producing and marketing flagship capsules, and it continues looking to escape with a blown-up cellphone UI. Even if you seek out the correct tablet apps from pill-fanatic builders, there’s no fixing the center interface without Google’s help. Not nothing in Android is constructed from the ground up for drugs. Android feels like an afterthought on capsules because it is an afterthought. There’s no denying it.

Klunky Keyboarding
The Pixel C has a bodily keyboard, which, like “being frequently landscape” and “being a pill,” is another rare function for an Android tool that exposes a whole host of rarely-seen problems. A fundamental difficulty is the default typing cognizance. When you open software or an internet site, the keyboard must automatically be “lively” inside the textual content container that makes the most logical sense. Consider how things work on a laptop computer: if I open Chrome and begin typing, the letters mechanically cross within the address bar. This is because the address bar is the “default” entry field in Chrome—while you open Chrome, you may mechanically see the little blinking enter cursor within the deal with bar, indicating that Chrome is ready to get hold of your keyboard input. Additionally, you can get kind in “Google.Com” and hit “input,” and while Google masses, the typing cognizance will routinely jump to Google’s seek box.

If you open Chrome on Android and start typing, nothing happens. Well, now not pretty “not anything”—the refresh button will highlight, due to the fact, as the first button within the UI, it has the default keyboard consciousness. Default keyboard awareness normally does not paint on Android. Why it would not work is simple to apprehend—for devices without a physical keyboard, placing a text container because the default awareness object way the on-screen software program keyboard will pop up as quickly as you open the app. Most apps like Chrome don’t want half of the UI to, without delay, be protected by the keyboard. Users might need to tap on a new tab thumbnail instead or hit the menu and look at bookmarks or the modern-day web page. So no default keyboard recognition is set.

As an app designer, you need the bodily keyboard to kind into the maximum logical text field. But if a user does not have an actual keyboard, you commonly do not need to, without delay, display an on-display screen keyboard to them. Android does not appear to have the equipment to separate the physical keyboard and on-screen keyboard awareness into separate settings. Since cellphone customers substantially outnumber physical keyboard users on Android, bodily keyboard users get left out in the cold. So with a bodily keyboard, most input boxes might not have attention except your faucet or tab.

The physical keyboard also raises an extraordinary worry regarding spell tests and autocorrect. Spell correction on Android happens in places: 1) in the input field, in the form of purple underlines, and a pair of) in the software program keyboard autocorrect. The bodily keyboard does not have to autocorrect since you’re much less probably to make a typo; however, now you’re counting on the enter field’s spell check.

The problem? There are several exceptional varieties of the textual content field on Android. Some have spell tests, and some don’t, and the text box style an app uses seems quite random. For instance, you get spell check in Gmail with a bodily keyboard, but not in Google Keep. Spell test works in Hangouts but not Google Chrome or Firefox text bins. This is a small inconsistency when you have the software program keyboard autocorrect. But while you depend on the app for spell tests, it is a bigger deal.
The Pixel C nonetheless seems like “aspirational” developer hardware that isn’t always ready for clients.

The Pixel C almost seems like a useful demonstration of the matters Android is bad at. It’s a group of uncommon device configurations that might be poorly supported through Google and the app environment because they are scarce. Try the Pixel C for a few minutes, and you will quickly locate that Android’s interface is not cut out for a huge screen; bodily keyboard support is not that precise. Android apps aren’t built to work with a breakup screen, constructed for pills, or even made for landscape. As a bit of demonstration hardware, the Pixel C is notably beneficial in coming across these flaws—you cannot aid hardware with the software except the hardware exists first. Have you been given to wish people outside and inside Google are dogfooding the Pixel C and pronouncing “See? Look how awful this all is! Fix it.”

FURTHER READING Android 7. Zero Nougat evaluation—Do more for your gigantic cellphone

The Pixel C has been out for a year, and development is sluggish. Nougat’s split-screen function is an exquisite addition now, not only for multitasking but especially as it fixes the problem of no person being concerned approximately Android pill apps. Splitting the Pixel C down the middle gives you cell phone-like app areas; that’s fantastic because you’ll be strolling apps designed for a phone most of the time. The awaiting break-up display screen aid in the OS is over for the Pixel C, and now the watch for builders to fully guide the break-up display has started. Apps need to be up to date to recommend a stay, continually updating UI even though they aren’t presently being tapped on. It’s extra waiting, even a yr after release, and I fear the Pixel C hardware will be out of date by the time all this waiting is over.
However, there’s no telling if this developer’s help will show up. Not many builders or agencies appear stimulated to make Android capsules remarkable, and all of it starts offevolved on the pinnacle with Google. I haven’t seen anything inside the core Android UI or in-app improvement that says Google is ready to take drugs seriously.

Expecting an employer selling tablets to provide pill-orientated interfaces for the OS and primary apps isn’t unreasonable. But Google hasn’t proven willing to offer the one’s interfaces. My Android pill recommendation nevertheless stands—I’ll take Android drugs severely once Google does.

All the interface regressions are seeing that Honeycomb nonetheless makes Android tablets sense like an afterthought. While the Pixel C is a remarkable demonstration of those problems, it’s no longer a first-rate productiveness tool than the opposition.