A growing challenge for any tablet app, but especially for a magazine apps, is delivering the same quality content to a variety of devices. Android tablets presents the greatest challenge, having multiple screen dimensions, including three different sizes in the Kindle Fire family alone.
This problem is compounded by the differing system bars device manufactures bake into their customized versions of the Android OS. System bars vary as large as 75 pixels down to as small as zero pixels, meaning two devices with 1280×800 dimensions (the most popular Android tablet screen dimension) from different manufactures can actually require different renditions of an app. This can equate to dozens of different renditions.
Or developers can build two different renditions of a folio that take care of every Android device. By publishing a 1205×800 and a 1024×600 portrait orientation folio, publishers are able to ensure that every Android device (including Kindle Fire SD and HD) can display their content by taking advantage of (minimal) letter boxing.
Android represents a growing, but still small, fraction of tablets that are in regular use and while it is important to ensure that content is available on all Android devices, minor letter boxing is not a major problem, especially when it is dual-side letter boxing of less than 100 pixels, as it is with the 1205×800 solution.
This is an imperfect solution, as an device with short-edge of more than 800 pixels (most notably the Kindle Fire HD 8.9”) will have four-side letter boxing, but at least the folio will still appear on the device and will still be readable. And while there should be a goal to eventually includes a 1920×1200 rendition for the Kindle Fire HD 8.9”, it is not essential to ensure access.
For magazines transitioning to digital publishing it is essential to include as many tablets as possible to ensure that no print reader is restricted from digital access. By coupling the 1024×600 and 1205×800 renditions with the 1024×768 iPad rendition, magazines and developers are able to provide content to every iOS and Android tablet on the market including the iPad, iPad Mini, Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD 7” and 8.9”.