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Study: Android Playing Catch-Up In Tablet Apps

Palo Alto, Calif. — A major deficiency of the Android OS is the limited availability of high-quality, tablet-optimized apps in the Google Play store, Canalys determined.

More than 375,000 apps optimized for iPads appear in the Apple App Store, far more than the low tens of thousands available through Google Play for Android OS tablets, the research and analysis company said.

In addition, only 52 percent of the top 50 paid and free iPad apps in Apple’s U.S. App Store in the first half had tablet-optimized Android counterparts available through the Google Play store, Canalys said. And 30 percent of the top 50 iPad apps were not available on Google Play. An additional 18 percent were available through Google Play but not tablet-optimized, so they appear as no more than a smart phone app blown up to the size of a tablet screen, the company said.

Canalys also pointed out that the 52 percent of top iPad apps available as tablet-optimized Android apps includes six titles that are paid iOS titles but free, ad-supported Android titles. “While nominally free, set against a paid version of the app, ad-supported offerings typically deliver a poorer and often more limited user experience, sometimes taking a considerable toll on device battery life and often subjecting users to unskippable videos or other unpopular intrusions,” said Canalys analyst Daniel Matte.

“Quite simply, building high-quality app experiences for Android tablets has not been among many developers’ top priorities to date,” said Canalys senior analyst Tim Shepherd.

That will change, however, because the number of Android tablets in use has soared and as Google improves its Play store, Shepherd said, but the company still must “do more to encourage greater numbers of developers to invest in delivering high-quality Android tablet apps quickly, else it risks disappointing consumers with weak app experiences in the short term.”

To take tablet app selection the next level, Google can’t simply depend on a large addressable base of tablets, Canalys said. Google must encourage app development by making “changes to the Play store to ensure more rigorously managed, high-quality, optimized experiences are highlighted to the benefit of consumers” and to “reward those developers who invest the time and resources in building them with improved discoverability,” said Shepherd.

It is also important that “Google wins consumers’ trust and encourages them to register credit cards and billing details so that the barrier to them spending money on apps — and other content — is reduced at the point of purchase,” Matte added.