Zoom mode for tablet screens coming to Android Honeycomb

An imminent Android 3.x update will introduce a new zoom compatibility mode designed to improve application usability on Android tablets. Beginning with the next Android release (presumably version 3.2), apps that do not target larger tablet screens or does not explicitly set android:xlargeScreens="true" in the <supports-screens> element will include a button in the system bar that enables users to select between two viewing modes: "Stretch to fill screen" (normal layout resizing using the app's alternative resources for size and density) and the new "Zoom to fill screen" (which does not resize the layout but instead runs the app in an emulated normal/mdpi screen and scales that up to fill the screen).

"In cases where an app does not properly resize for larger screens, this screen compatibility mode can improve the app's usability by emulating the app's phone-style look, but zoomed in to fill the screen on a tablet," explains developer.android.com lead tech writer Scott Main on the Android Developers Blog. "However, 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. Unfortunately, if you haven't said so in your manifest file, the system doesn't know that your application properly supports large screens. Thus, if you've developed your app against any version lower than Android 3.0 and do not declare support for large screens in your manifest, the system is going to offer users the option to enable screen compatibility mode."

Main states that apps specifically designed to support Android 3.0 and declaring either android:minSdkVersion or android:targetSdkVersion with a value of "11" or greater are "already in the clear," meaning the screen compatibility mode will not be offered to users. Developers may disable the screen compatibility mode by declaring support for xlarge screens in the manifest file's <supports-screens. element. "If your app does not resize properly for large screens, then users might better enjoy your app using screen compatibility mode," Main adds. "However, please follow our guide to Supporting Multiple Screens so that you can also disable screen compatibility mode and provide a user experience that's optimized for large-screen devices."

For more:
- read this Android Developers Blog entry

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