Fragments released to Android smartphone devs for tablet-friendly apps

Google has enabled its Fragments API for non-Honeycomb versions of Android, allowing developers to code apps with layouts that work both on smartphones and tablets. The new Android Compatibility package is available through the SDK Updater, and works with Android 1.6 and above. Fragments basically allows developers to create panelled UI layouts that can be separated or combined depending on how much screen real-estate is on offer.

So, on a smartphone, an app may display a single panel at a time in full-screen. However, on a tablet – such as Motorola's 10.1-inch XOOM – which has more pixels to play with, multiple Fragment panels can be combined for a more feature-rich layout. Google originally launched Fragments as part of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, with the example of an email app that might show a header list and message preview pane simultaneously on a tablet, whereas the same app would split the two sections between different screens on a smartphone.

Fragments is important since it's part of Google's response to criticism regarding the number of tablet-compatible apps currently available in the Android Market. Steve Jobs criticized that number earlier in the week, when he contrasted the roughly 100 tablet-specific titles available for Honeycomb against the 65,000 iPad titles in the App Store. However, Android's native method of handling different screen resolutions is arguably more polished than iOS' basic pixel-doubling of iPhone apps on the iPad, while Fragments will build on that advantage.

[via Android Community]