The Nexus 7 exhibited this but few people noticed it because other successful seven-inch tablets tend to run stretched out versions of phone apps… Google appears to be killing off the idea of UI laid out with the tablet form factor in mind.
Honeycomb wasn’t perfect, but one of the smart design things it did was the system bar on the bottom of the screen, which unified the back/home/multitasking buttons on the left with notifications on the right. On the opposite edge of the screen, you had a search field anchored on the left and the Applications button on the right. This made it fairly easy to operate the device when holding it from the sides in landscape.
The Nexus 7’s launcher more or less looked identical to the one on stock Ice Cream Sandwich on phones, which lacked these neat tablet-only touches. There was some research done by a usability firm (I forget which one) regarding whether UI designed for a phone or a tablet is better on a seven-inch tablet, and they concluded that the screen is too small to run full tablet apps adequately and that phone apps stretched out, while goofy, work better in practice. Given Google’s usual data-driven decisions, I assumed they did it for that reason.
But here comes the Nexus 10, with a notification bar on the top, and a soft buttons bar on the bottom with the buttons centered. The search field is centered, so you have to stretch your fingers out from the edges to hit it, and the applications drawer can only be brought up by hitting the apps button in the middle of the dock, which you can’t realistically reach from the edges of the screen in landscape.
If you had a Honeycomb tablet and a split keyboard (SwiftKey X is really good, I would kill for an iOS version of that), you could operate more or less the whole thing from the sides in landscape. You can’t do that anymore.
Lots of people criticize Apple for just taking SpringBoard from the phone, blowing it up, and putting it on the iPad. Apple chose consistency to make the iPad immediately usable to anyone who’s ever seen or used an iPhone.
What made Honeycomb interesting to me was that it experimented with what tablet UI should look like and whether it could be made better by designing for that specific form factor. Google appears be U-turning on that for consistency, but consistency with what? Most Android devices being sold today are running transmogrified versions of the Android experience that have little in common with the stock launcher, so why bother when it’s going to make the experience worse?
Nobody at the US Copyright Office seems to give a shit that when I buy something, I expect that it is mine, and that I should be free to do whatever the hell I want with it, even if it implies reverse-engineering the system. Their presumption seems to be: anyone jailbreaking a device is up to no good and will pirate things, and it doesn’t matter if we allow it for smartphones because smartphone software isn’t real, complex software.