The popular video streaming service Ustream, just updated its Android app and optimized it for Honeycomb tablets (as did the IMDb app, incidentally). I gave it a test run and it looked nice. It works well, taking advantage of the bigger screen real estate and the flexibility it offers. Ustream lets you watch both live and archived content, has a great calendar of upcoming shows/events so you don’t lose track, and even lets you broadcast and upload live video from the, erm ‘comfort’ of your very own tablet.
It’s encouraging to see this happening more often. The optimized tablet version even hit Android before its iOS counterpart, but fear not Apple fans -- the iPad will soon be graced with a tablet-specific version of Ustream too.
Google addresses tablet optimization
However, not all is peachy in the world of Android tablet apps. Just yesterday, Tim Bray from the Android Development team posted an article on their blog by Scott Main, the lead tech writer there, about how Google is finally addressing the thorny issue of making Android apps look better on the big screen. Future Honeycomb versions will offer users the ability to stretch non-compatible apps to full screen, or give users the chance to zoom-in. This might not sound like a big deal, and for sure, we’d love to see way more fully-optimized tablet-specific apps, but it’s a step in the right direction.
This is important if Google wants to be successful. As we’ve harped-on about before, apps are king when it comes to tablet success. With 100,000 well-optimized iPad apps out there and merely hundreds of properly-optimized Android tablet apps, Google has a lot of catching up to do.
And when it comes to video-related apps, that whole catching up thing is even more essential. Android recently got blessed with both Netflix and Hulu Plus apps, which, like Ustream, are premium names in the world of streaming video content. But both Netflix and Hulu Plus come with big caveats: they only work on certain devices, mainly smartphones, and there’s a whole slew of Android tablets out there that they don’t work properly on. Seriously: not being able to watch a movie or TV show from these premium services on a $500 tablet is just absurd.
This future Honeycomb update might help this situation a bit, but it’s still not likely to be an ideal solution. Until Ice Cream Sandwich drops in our laps (later this year, fingers crossed), and Google finally gets to better address the fragmentation issues that have slowed down Android development for years, video lovers with Android tablets may still view their iPad-owning friends with just a little bit of envy.