Google is set to introduce a new feature into its future versions of Android which enables smartphone apps to be better presented on tablet devices – although developers of apps which already work on tablets will need to make some modifications to protect the screen appearance. Beginning with the upcoming platform release, any app which does not target Android 3.0 or higher, or which does not explicitly state support for large screens, will be presented to users with two viewing options – “stretch to fill screen” or “zoom to fill screen.” The latter option invokes a new screen compatibility mode which, rather than resizing the layout to fill the screen, instead runs the app in an emulated normal screen, and then scales that up to fill the display – although with the result of increased pixilation.

In a blog post, Scott Main, lead tech writer for the Android developer site, noted that “most apps (even those that don’t specifically target Honeycomb) look just fine on tablets without screen compatibility mode, due to the use of alternative layouts for different screen sizes and the framework’s flexibility when resizing layouts.” However, unless the app’s manifest file states large screen support (or targets Android 3.0 or later), the system will still offer the compatibility option, even if not desired by the developer. While the screen compatibility mode does provide another way for smartphone apps to be displayed on tablets, developers were pointed to a guide to supporting multiple resolutions, in order to “provide a user experience that’s optimised for large-screen devices.”