Android tablet owners are getting some really cool free app upgrades

Google's delivering on its promise to make Android tablets good

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Android tablet on wooden table
(Image credit: Future)

I think most sensible people would agree that some, and perhaps nearly all, of the best phones right now run Android – but you can't say the same about the best tablets.

Our best-of slate rating guide is dominated by Apple, even though Apple tablets are often a lot more expensive. And a big part of that is because of Apple's iPadOS. It's not perfect by any means – buy me a gin and I'll bore you to death for hours about all the things that annoy me about it – but at least it knows that tablets exist. By comparison, Android on tablets has always felt like a phone OS on a too-big display. Which is exactly what it is, or was.

The good news is that this time, Google is delivering on its words of support for Android tablets: Android 13 is the best Android yet for big-screened devices, and Google is updating the interface on stacks of apps to make them much more tablet-friendly. As 9to5Google reports (opens in new tab), some of the key apps are already updated and there are plenty more to come.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra Android tablet

(Image credit: Samsung)

A new look for your favourite Android apps

As you'd expect, Google has started with its big-name apps. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides have all been optimised for tablet users and Google Drive and Google Keep now have much bigger widgets to take advantage of tablets' extra screen space. Google TV's been redesigned for tablets too, albeit without some of the Material You styling we saw at Google I/O.

Some other apps were updated ages ago, including Google Photos, Google Calendar and YouTube Music; others, such as Chrome and YouTube, are so close to the desktop/web versions already there's no need for tablet-related tomfoolery.

This is an ongoing process so if an app hasn't been optimised yet and it's made by Google, it should be updated soon.

I really like what Google's doing with Android lately and if these improvements help drive sales of Android tablets that can only be a good thing: as much as I'm invested in the Apple ecosystem it would be nice to see more high quality tablets at every price point so there's more choice for all of us. And of course, the more fierce the competition, the harder Apple works to beat it – so better Android tablets are good news for Apple users too.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).