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The Nexus 7 has an interesting screen:

- 7 inches.
- 800x1280.
- "tvdpi" density (numerically that is 213).
- 600 x 961 in dp units.

Let's start with the screen size first.  Ignore the raw resolution, this is a 7" tablet like many other existing 7" tablets.  There are a number of existing 7" tablets with 600x1024 screens; they are just a different density (mdpi) vs. our tvdpi here.  Adjusting for density we still have the same screen space for layout -- 600x961 or 600x1024 is just the difference between a 16:10 or 16:9 screen, respectively.

Most significantly, in terms of the "smallest screen width" definition for how modern Android classifies screens, these are both -sw600dp.

Some people have commented that the UI on the Nexus 7 isn't a scaled down version of the 10" UI.  This is somewhat true.  It is also not just the phone UI shown on a larger display.  Various parts of the system and applications will use one or the other UI (or even a mix) depending on what works best.  For example parts of the system UI (status bar and navigation bar, settings) use the phone layout since they too compact in 600dp of width.  Other apps use the tablet UI or even a mix -- for example Gmail uses the tablet UI in the conversation list, but the message screen is either a single pane like a phone or dual-pane like a tablet depending on whether the screen is currently portrait or landscape.

For developers, when designing your app to scale up from its phone UI, this mostly means you should pick the break point at which any major change in your layout should occur and let the layout managers take care of all of the sizes in-between.  If your UI can fit down to 600dp wide, use -sw600dp; if it needs more or less space, use another width that matches what it needs.  You can switch more dynamically based on the current real width (allowing changes during rotation) for bonus points; fragments help a lot in implementing such things.

Now, the screen density.  I suspect a lot of developers' reaction to "tvdpi" was "wtf?!?" :)  This density was introduced last year for TV display support:

For TVs, xhdpi is the density used for 1080p output (it gives the expected UI size given the typical distance one sits from a TV), and tvdpi was added to provide the same UI size for a 720p display.  As it turns out, this density is the same one needed for a 800x1280 7" display: if 600x1024 is mdpi (160dp), then 160 * (800/600) = about 213dpi.

For app developers, the next reaction here is probably "what, you mean I have to support another density??".  Fortunately you should not.  We consider tvdpi to be a "secondary" density -- one that counts as a compatible device, but which we discourage developers from creating assets for.  This can be done because Android's density scaling was designed to be able to support arbitrary densities, by including the concept of density in all of the UI specifications of the application (bitmaps, measurements, etc) and using layout managers for final pixel-accurate placement of UI elements.

You don't need to supply bitmaps for every possible density, Android will scale your bitmaps (typically when they are loaded) to match the current density.  All layout measurements are provided in "dp" units so these are likewise scaled, with the layout managers taking all of these measurements in pixels (after they have been scaled by the density) for final placement on the screen.  Font sizes are of course simply scaled, so they will be drawn at full resolution; since layout is done in pixels, measurement of text can be done based on the final pixel size, to avoid errors due to hinting.

Even so, when bitmaps are scaled to a density there isn't a design for, you may get artifacts such as softening of the edges.  There are a number of things Android does that mitigate this issue:

- Device screens like the Nexus 7 are now fairly high density, so scaling artifacts are often not noticeable.

- When selecting the original bitmap to scale from, Android will generally prefer a higher-density bitmap.  So on our tvdpi screen here, we will generally scale down the hdpi asset, which is included by most applications due to the dominance of hdpi phone screens.

- Android's tablet UI uses larger than normal application icons.  This is done by switching to a higher density version of the icon: returns the density to use.  Application icons are some of the most critical for crisp display, so the density here is generally one step up from the current screen density (mdpi->hdpi, hdpi->xhdpi, etc) to ensure a designed icon is used without scaling.  The tvdpi screen maps to the hdpi density so that Launcher and other places these icons appear still use a designed size.

The Nexus 7 was a big test of how well Android's density scaling can work, and I am really happy with the result.  In fact, there was one tvdpi asset created for the open source platform in Jelly Bean, which is is the background of the notification tray.  And that asset also has different versions for different screen sizes, so it is not representative of a regular approach that applications will use.  Nearly everything else you see on the screen is done without a specific tvdpi asset, either scaling or using as-is the existing hdpi asset.
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I am surprised at the smartphone ui on the nexus 7. Remains to be seen if it would be replicated on the 10" tablets as well. 
+Sushubh Mittal Sure hope not. I feel the bottom-drawer UI on 10.1" tablets is far superior usability-wise on a tablet. I wish the N7 had it, to be honest.

Dianne... thought bubble for making your job harder in the future: Give us a choice? :P
+Sushubh Mittal and +Jake Weisz did either of you read the post? :)  The Nexus 7 UI is a mix of phone and tablet UIs, based on what fits in the available space.  The system bar design for a 10" screen just doesn't fit well on a 7" screen when in portrait.  This wouldn't make sense to turn into a choice.
The system bar for 10" would be fine in landscape though.
I wish I could change the density and size at run time, maybe even app by app. BlueStacks lets you do it per app and it's handy to make older apps look good. If a reboot was required, that wouldn't be as good but would still be helpful. I know all apps are supposed to be coded to adapt to multiple resolutions and densities, but many don't do a good job.
+Sushubh Mittal - I guess you didn't actually read the discussion here.  Basically the whole thing is about how what you said is not supported by facts.
+Ed Burnette Switching between the system bar system UI and the nav/status bar system UI as you move between landscape and portrait seems...  undesirable.

As far changing the density at run time, no we are not doing that any time soon, because forcing developers to deal with the large variety of new screen configurations that come out of that would be a bad idea.  Yes Android takes care of a lot of this for you.  That doesn't mean it should be made more complicated for developers.

And as far as changing the density per app...  no, just no. :)
I get that part. From what I have heard about Nexus 7, it does not have a landscape view of the home screen. Is this a Nexus 7 feature or it would apply to all 7" Tablets as well? 
+Sushubh Mittal This is a policy of the launcher app.  If you don't like it, if nothing else you could just use an alternative launcher.
Thanks. I hope Asus launch this model in the Indian market soon enough. This is the first Android Tablet I actually want to purchase. 
+Ed Burnette having completely different UIs for portrait and landscape would be too confusing for the average user, one minute your notifications are at the top and then flip to the bottom. The 7" UI is a good compromise and looks like it will work great for this form factor. I can't wait for my Nexus 7 to arrive!
+Dianne Hackborn Isn't it tablet-style on 7" units on Honeycomb and ICS? I can't see why it would take more space on JB.

+Sushubh Mittal It doesn't seem to, no. It doesn't seem to rotate in a few places I wish it would, but there might be settings I haven't fiddled with yet.
To underscore Dianne’s point about not needing tvdpi-specific artwork: Many of Nexus 7’s platform assets are hdpi images, downscaled at load time. You can't tell! They look great.
+Jake Weisz Yes other manufacturers have shipped them that way.  When we were putting together our own device, we decided the result was too cramped.  I think it was a good decision.
Great read +Dianne Hackborn, thanks for the info. It most definitely is a very interesting device. Fingers crossed I won't need to change any of my layouts!
+Daniel Sandler Although if you take a screenshot and look at it on your computer, it is much more obvious.  Yay for high density displays. :)
And I bet those assets don't have text embedded in the graphics. :) Designers love to do this (showing off their big font libraries), and it drives me nuts. ;(
I'm right now looking for tech writer are you interested in having this article published in my magazine if so contact me at
+Mark Andrachek, Jr. Well they do have letters here and there such as the "g+" icon.  But yeah, you may want to make tvdpi assets if you are actually putting text in bitmaps...  on the other hand, if you are doing that you have also totally wrecked yourself for localization.
Thanks +Dianne Hackborn for yohr informative posts. Thinking in the future, I think starting a profile titled "App Cat Sez" would be a great forum for these. :-)
+Dianne Hackborn Thank you for this informative post.

To be honest, I was a little surprised to not get the tablet bottom tray at first. I personally tend to use tablets in landscape view, and it works well on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7". Those .7" could well make the difference, and truth be told, many people think everything looks too small on my 7.7".

On to business though, I have an app that is compatible with devices back to 2.3.1, and it has a tablet view. I was using the tablet view based simply on "xlarge" size. I know this is not advised anymore, but swXdp simply isn't supported on older Android versions. The N7 is the first device I have tried where this did not work out as I had wanted it.

Now, what I did is simply create another layout folder, sw600dp. I copied the files from xlarge to here. Is there any cleaner and/or better solution to this ? It seems to work as expected for the moment.
+Dianne Hackborn I guess that's part of why you guys wanted your own 7" reference device. I prefer it the other way, but then, I probably prefer my Xoom over my N7 due to size. (Make a Nexus 10, I'll buy one. Moar tabletz. The sad part is... I actually have a use for all these tablets, the N7's going to do some corporate stuff I can't put on my personal unit.)
+Drew Sonnenburg My favorite types of posts are where people post actual intelligent thought over random meme picture and three words. ;)
ummm you really did your research.... props to you. and they really need to stop making phones soooo big.... i mean they went from big to small and now they are going back....
Keep in mind the redesigned JellyBean notifications give you MUCH more info than the ICS notifications did.  The top-pulldown notification bar on the N7 made no sense to me either until I tried JellyBean on my galaxy nexus.  And now, I don't see how they'd fit that into the tablet style notification area on a 7" screen.
Read the post, and it's great. But... using CM9 on the first Galaxy Tab, I too prefer the status bars at the bottom in portrait mode as well, with far smaller back/home/task buttons. Though an option to configure how the user wishes the layout to be outside of apps, I'm sure a solution will be found for rooted devices soon enough so it's maybe not needed as standard.
+Ben Freund ah, I can see that making sense too. We'll see how things progress. Always good to have a bit of flexibility.
+Alexander Gee yeah, i‘m aware. Doesn't help much if you don't have the font, or the rights to embed/redistribute the font, or if you actually do, and android won't render the font correctly...
I started porting one of my apps to Google TV some time ago and that is when I got introduced to the tvdpi density. Thank you for this post and the heads-up... I pre-ordered the Nexus 7 but it will be a couple of weeks before I receive it. Very strange that this tablet report itself with a tvdpi density. The hdpi density is very close, so scaling down from it should not have pretty much any visible degradation.
Does it have GPS and bluetooth?  If so I can use it for navigation in my plane..
I got the tablet at I/O. Since then, I've ordered three more for the rest of my family. 7" is a great size for a tablet and at 200 bucks its an absolute steal.

I have high hopes for the Nexus Q as well. If Netflix is updated to work like YouTube the Q would blow away any other streamer.
What about the limited storage. Something less than 6 gb usable.
In terms of specs, N7 is a great package. But Google should have taken care of the storage part. Especially since Google Cloud is not fully appreciable.
+christina wilhelm phones got smaller because being a phone was their only function, so the smaller they got while still being functional, the better. But as modern smartphones are more like pocket computers with a phone built in, the bigger the screen while still being pocketable the better!
Worst case, unlock the bootloader, try a tablet UI, if you don't like it, get another ROM instead that has this structure. Easy enough. I'm sure google will make it super easy to unlock the bootloader.
+Ben Freund Believe it or not, some of the demos they were doing at Google I/O were with the tablet UI, fits fine, keep in mind those notifications contract.
Thank you again, +Dianne Hackborn

I will be receiving my N7 in mid-July and look forward to finally getting to explore the new 4.1 API extensions and tools.

Here are some comments:

1) After having gone through the trauma of trying to generate high-quality app store marketing screenshots of my app at the required sizes and aspect ratios (none of which matched my dev device), I found that scaling bitmaps down usually produces very fine results (assuming the scaling algorithm uses at least bilinear or higher-order interpolation).  However, scaling bitmaps up never works well, especially with fonts and other sharp edges.

2a) In the future, I would like to see customizable User Settings offered so that users can set various UI attributes/preferences such as icon size (small, medium, and large), allow landscape launcher mode, etc.  I hate to say this, but Windows does a semi-decent job of allowing users to customize UI elements such as scrollbar widths, etc. 

2b) A side benefit of allowing users to configure the UI for larger screen elements is that this would allow people with impaired vision to use larger icons, fonts, etc.

3) The main app I am going to be writing for tablets this year will work best in landscape mode, but I think this is true of many apps.  I'm not sure how this pertains specifically to this discussion, but your mention of a portrait-only launcher screen raised some concerns.

4) I have a Kindle Fire, and even with a black background and gray foreground fonts on the dimmest display setting, it is still too bright to read a book in a dark room.  How is the N7 in this department?
+RATHIN PA The entire point of the N7 is to be an access point for Google's cloud services like Play Music, Play Movies, etc. If that's the whole point, why would they raise the costs and go out of their way to add something that doesn't help with that?
oh my poor attention span
Chet O
If only it has a microSD or SD card slot, it would be perfect for me.  I have a kindle and hate it just because it is not expandable.
This new mixed UI sounds an awful lot like the ParanoidAndroid ICS ROMs. Good stuff! :)
+Agustinus Upojo They already expanded movies to several European countries, hopefully as contractual agreements are formed, that'll expand. It might even expand around the time this releases, given that Google doesn't talk ahead of time about their ongoing negotiations. Do other countries have any type of streaming services available at all?
I am definitely one of those who is sad that there is no SD card. I've had a Nook Color running ICS for quite some time, and the form factor is awesome (especially once you move the notification bar to the bottom in portrait -- easier to reach with your thumbs); but, I honestly don't think I can live without the SD card slot... I don't want anything to do with the clouds. :(
+Oliver Petruzel  Sadly the N7 doesn't support USB Storage out of the box either, so you'll either have to root it to get a USB drive to work with something like stickmod or load a future CM10. I ordered a 16G model, but would gladly have paid more for a 64G one too. Even with tethering, the Internet isn't everywhere you want to be.
+Dianne Hackborn These little nuggets of wisdom regarding layout/UI issues are always interesting and helpful. Thanks for taking the time to write them.
+Romain Guy Thank you for ensuring all the hamsters making my Androids work are happily running their wheels in an efficient way. :)
In simple terms whats the browser viewport size when i give the viewport width=device-width and scale=1.0 meta tag in the page?
Thanks for these explanations.

Can you easily specify in one's app to use the higher res (for which you provide assets) instead or scaling? (for specific cases where bitmap fidelity is more important than precise apparent size)?
Thanks for this very informative post!

I love reading these, since they give very interesting insights on the magic that is Android :)
YES plz specify the stuff so i can tear out my hair trying to fiqure out something.
+Christopher Gaul it's not a "trust" issue -- it's mainly a connection and data cap problem.

I currently run my own "cloud" for every song and movie I've ever purchased using my FIOS connection and the Plex app. Even on AT&T "unlimited," I've risked throttling every month given the amount of time I'm not near a WiFi connection. THAT is why I need my SD card.

Until we have nation-wide WiFi available, the clouds are not a viable alternative to local (on-device) storage... at least, not for me. :(
So would you purchase this tablet? Cause I wanna get one soon
I've always been impressed at the focus on device display independence that so many people (especially mobile app developers) seem to forget is important, bravo!

That said, the first thing I'm going to do when I have my Nexus7 and the 4.1 source is bring back the tablet-style notifications from the system bar (preferably on a swipe-up gesture rather than a click) because I really don't like the top-window-shade notify on a tablet.
I am hoping they are doing an 10 inches tablet too ;0)
It is high time for a scaling GUI. Where you do your layout due to the real dimensions of the display and only use the dpi to calculate the amounts of dots you have to draw. Instead of doing layouts on pixels, that will get smaller and smaller. And you end up with a smeary small point, representing the morning paper.
+Oliver Petruzel ah, OK. Fair enough.
I pretty much agree. While the cloud stuff is improving and getting more useful, bandwidth vendors are getting more greedy about trying to profit from it. I think it's a poor decision on Google's part to remove a key differentiator between themselves and Apple just to save a buck or two per unit. They cannot forget that choice is one of the key tipping points for a lot of Android device buyers and removing it does cost them sales. I know many people that were ready to buy a GNex until they found out about the lack of SD slot. Google cannot forget who their core market is or they risk alienating them.
+Ralf Saalmüller I don't know, I think it is long past high time.  Android has been doing this since 1.6 (almost three years ago). :)
Nice post! I didn't really understand about 2 or 3 quarters of the terminology, but the parts that I did understand were great for seeing how and why you designed the N7 and JB the way you did. And if ultimately things are easier for devs, then that's awesome! Android needs more high-quality apps, and if it only gets easier, then it can only be a good thing for Android down the line. :)
cool the lady of noar s ark veary nice Dianne hack borns post google +cool
myat mon you must be a pet hotel boardng house joke care taker lovey vear
bessy nice cool.
A few points. 

I disagree with others here saying you should've kept (basically) the Honeycomb UI for Nexus 7. I think the Honeycomb/ICS UI for tablets is not that good, and kind of messy. The phone UI makes sense on 7" overall, especially if you add in all those widgets, which I hope Google will use a lot more in the future. You need more good looking and useful widgets - like you haven't even changed the Weather and Music widgets in ages. You need to make this a priority if you want Android tablets to look better. You need some kind of an "advanced" response to Microsoft's "tiles", but in a unified way that makes sense. Don't just throw some random widgets there. Watch the Chameleon UI for inspiration.

But here's what you're doing wrong. I understand what you're saying with "UI scaling" for apps, but that doesn't really work for 10" tablets, unless maybe they are using "fragments" but even then I'm not sure how well that works for most apps. Instead of doing the same mistake as in the beginning and keep saying developers have to do almost nothing to have their apps work well on the Nexus 7, you should ride the Nexus 7 success, and get as many developers as possible to make "tablet apps" for it, so these can easily scale for 10" tablets later on. If you're not doing this, then you might as well not do the Nexus 7, since it will be a useless effort when it comes to helping the 10" tablets in the market.

I still get the feeling that you guys are seriously underestimating how important it is to have "tablet apps" for the 10" version. It's basically by far the #1 reason why reviewers say 10" Android tablets are not even close to the iPad, even if they have the same hardware and cost $100 less, or even $150 less, because they will still recommend the iPad 2 over them. And it's a real shame, but they do that because the iPad has so many more apps that make sense for that form factor. If you're not going to change your attitude about this like last year, you're going to lose the tablet market forever.

So my suggestion is get devs to write tablet apps for the Nexus 7, so you can launch a $300 10" tablet with a 1920x1200 resolution this fall, and to have at least some apps that are optimized for it by then. You also might want to consider switching to the 4:3 format for 10" tablets, or maybe make it 9", because 10" looks pretty awkward in vertical mode, and I think that's how people like to use tablets in general. You're trying to push the 16:10 format on users, because that's convenient for you, and that's how you want apps to work. But I don't think it's very convenient for users.

If you're not going that direction then I hope that in Android 5.0 we'll see some "desktop-class" functionality, so it makes more sense to us Android like a desktop OS with a keyboard. But again you'll need "tablet apps" for this size or bigger, not scaled phone apps. I'd like to see better desktop-class multi-tasking - like I want to be able to use at least 2 apps in the same time, and so on.
+Lucian Armasu most Google apps scale nicely to tablet size and split into multiple panes (Yes, using fragments) at a certain threshold. How is Google supposed to force third party developers to produce well laid-out apps that feature a sensible tablet-size layout? They could make sure the layout libraries are available in older versions of Android (Done) They could publish articles on how to design apps that layout dynamically (Done). They could subsidise a basic Android tablet to get a high-quality device into as many hands as possible to maximise the tablet market (Done) Short of throwing their own developers at other companies and redesigning their apps for free. Google are, and have been, really pushing it.
+Augusto Olimpio I also see that switching the DPI on the Nexus7 pops up the tablet UI controls. Fantastic. Though I'd prefer to change the threshold point that switches between rather than hacking the DPI. Interesting to see that the JB-10.1 layout is a little messed up, I guess that's why we won't see 10.1 JB tablets for a while, the UI isn't finished.
+Lucian Armasu With all due respect, 4:3 is dumb. The only reason Apple still uses it is that they didn't have the forethought to design an app model that could support multiple screen resolutions, and it'll break all their existing apps if they change it.

Nobody uses a 10" Android tablet is portrait mode either, because a very few special people ever use a computer monitor in portrait mode. Apple's lack of ability to cope with flexible design does not mean their model is inherently best because more people happen to be using it currently.
+Lucian Armasu To my knowledge, Apple's crippled mobile OS comprises of the entirety of consumer devices still relying on the outdated 4:3 aspect ratio, even the new Nintendo DS has widescreen.
+Lucian Armasu I have to strongly agree with +Curtis Fletcher here. Seems to me Google is trying really hard on this tablet thing.

I think we should also keep in mind that according to the latest platform numbers, only 13.3% of Android users is running Honeycomb or ICS, with only 5.1% on "xlarge". To me that reads that "serious" tablets make up between 5.1% and 13.3% of Android devices.

While this is certainly not insignificant, I can imagine a large number of developers may not feel this market is big enough yet to prioritize work for. It may well be they want to add it, but let's face it, something that affects 13.3% of users at most (probably half) is hardly likely to be the top priority.

(Not every developer is an enthusiast - for some it's "just work")
+Jorrit Jongma Well, that's the continuous chicken-and-egg issue. Can't get market share without apps, can't get apps without market share. Hence, Google has to inject some tablet support of it's own, and possibly some form of incentive to tablet developers.

Perhaps they could temporarily make tablets more profitable by lowering the cut they take from tablet-optimized apps (regardless of being downloaded on a tablet or a phone) or something? That would promote people to ensure their apps performed well on tablets and scaled properly to different form factors.
Okay, so there's my new idea. We have apps still not supporting multiple form factors, apps still using legacy menu buttons, etc.

Google should have a program you can submit your paid or in-app purchasing app to if it supports all the modern design guidelines of Android design, multiple form factors, etc. If your app checks out, they reduce the cut Google takes from sales. Every new Android release could reset the list if new guidelines or capabilities were added, and people could resubmit once they met them.

So rather than having approve-to-list like Apple, just having a second tier of apps that are of a particular grade of excellent compatibility, with a direct profit-based incentive to get there.
+Jake Weisz That's not a bad idea. However, from what I've heard, the 30% take is supposed to be cost-bearing, not profit. And looking at the state of Play, I'd rather have those 30% spent on fixing issues with Play (that cost me an hour to two a day in tech support because customers think its my fault Play borks) than in giving cuts to tablet devs. Simply because that helps me more than a price cut would.
+Jorrit Jongma That's true, but Google is pretty wonderful with cost-effective data management. If a program like this vastly improved apps support of new features and proper design guidelines, I think it'd be worth the cost. And I'm not saying like a huge difference, like reducing the cut down to 25%. If you really wanted to provide a heavy incentive, you could take Google's cut down to 20% of the app price.

A program like this could offer an incentive to use Android UI design, be tablet-friendly, embrace new features of new Android versions, and even avoid bad-for-consumer experiences like Airpush.
I use my Galaxy Note exclusively in tablet mode.
Portrait combo bar works just fine, plenty of finger space and I have fairly clumsy and large fingers/thumbs - 's partly the reason I bought the Note.
On my 10.1 phone apps stood out, on my Nexus 7 I don't even really think about whether I am using a tablet or phone-designed app.
Buuuuuutttter! Google now! Tegra 3 quad core! Relatively small screen for graphics power. I hope the memory bandwidth is there so the gpus don't starve. This is a gaming workhorse of a tab. Graphics sub system reworked thank the lord.
Great post. Was initially hesitant about the hybrid UI but considering the alternatives I think it is the cleanest layout to have for the 7" form factor. Hopefully the paranoid android ROM makes it to the Nexus 7 as it also provided a hybrid mode on the galaxy nexus except with the option to change per app dpi.
I think the lack of landscape is a real shame. I just saw a video where Scoble was showing the iPad Google+ app and comparing it to the Nexus experience. The Nexus didn't do landscape, so in his mind android tablets don't do landscape for Google+. It is a bit of a nightmare when apps designed for Android tablets are not functioning well on the Nexus tablet, particularly when they are Google headline apps. Muddies the waters even more. Anyway, I will try it when it comes but may well end up spoofing the density. Most users will just wonder why there is not an option for a quality landscape experience and judge Android accordingly.
+Mark Holmes I'm not sure what you are talking about, the current Google+ app does landscape on the Nexus 7 just fine.  Same with the phone version.
+Dianne Hackborn Must have just been Scoble being incompetent then. I don't have one in hand yet to play with. ;)
+Mark Holmes and +Dianne Hackborn  I suspect Scoble (and some others) never thought to unlock the screen orientation that is locked by default. It's pretty obvious when you bring the shade down, to me, but maybe it's not obvious enough?
+Mark Holmes Funny thing is that I believe Android has historically been much better about supporting both orientations than iOS.  Our first device basically required that most apps support both orientations (since flipping out the keyboard switched into landscape), and as a result Android's architecture leans in that direction -- it assumes that an app wants to allow the screen to rotate, does that for the app, and the layout managers take care of adjusting to the new screen dimensions; apps must explicitly opt out of this behavior if they don't want to auto-rotate.

+Shane Conder I don't believe orientation is locked by default.  I just tried factory resetting my device, and the default was not locked.  I can imagine though it is easy for someone to accidentally press the button in the notification shade (maybe when using it to go to settings) and not realize it.
I have always liked that about Android +Dianne Hackborn, that is why it was a little disconcerting to think it had changed. Seems like a case of changing the settings and forgetting he had done it. He did say he went into the settings to look for an option and couldn't find one. Clearly not looking hard enough.

Looking forward to making my own mind up when one hits my doorstep. :)
+Dianne Hackborn Interesting; my I/O one was definitely locked when I got it. But, I realize, the I/O ones didn't necessarily have consumer builds (which is, presumably, the 4.1.1 that just hit). I do find the button there very useful, though. I'm finding more and more that I like to lock orientation (one way or the other) as the rotation in many apps tends to take longer than it should or resets more than it should. 
I applaud Google's decision to present a fixed portrait mode orientation for the N7's home screen. HOME should be just that - a familiar home base and not just a more disorienting fluid collections of icons.

Most N7 buyers will likely be first time tablet users. Their concerns should supercede the resistant habits of existing tablet owners. There is a reason that newspapers and magazines place text into several narrow columns rather than one full width column. It is simply easier to read/scan in narrow instead of wide chunks.

Both for marketing differentiation and usability, especially for new tablet users coming from Windows or Linux, it is good to break the expectation that a tablet is just a recast notebook PC without a keyboard. A vertically oriented HOME SCREEN helps to do that while leaving applications free to employ either portrait or landscape orientation as best suits each application or the preference of the user.
I have had android phone 9 months ago running 2.3.5 it is intuitive and brilliant. I have just received the nexus 7 and I am so disappointed. The fixed default orientation is very annoying when browsing standard web pages The omission of flash renders BBC I player useless these are two major minisus which will affect sales especially in the UK Please Google fix these issues I feel like I did when I Opted for a Vista laptop and yearnd for XP.
Thank you +Shane Conder I was under the impression that all applications on my nexus 7 could only be displayed in portrait orientation. Which was very concerning to me. After changing the option in the pull down to unlock the screen orientation apps are displaying in landscape for me. What a relief!
Don't like locked orientation per default. Also don't like lack of USB support .. that's always a problem when a new nexus device comes out. And also don't like lack of SD Card slot. But well, that's nexus - at least you will get any updates right, when they are out, so the nexuses are still good for devs.
I would still prefer, to fit them with an SD Card Slot, even when it is not supported in the first place (personal opinion but I know the problem with that)
+Anthony Stamp Er, no, though I'm not sure what that even means...?  First as I said the N7 isn't using a "phone UI," it is using different layouts as determined best for parts of the UI.  And what would deciding between say a two pane vs. one pane layout somewhere have to do with data usage...?!?
I don't know how representative you are of the rest of the team, Diane Hackborn, but I can see now why so many bad decisions are made about the direction of Android. You don't listen to the input of users.
«Device screens like the Nexus 7 are now fairly high density, so scaling artifacts are often not noticeable.»

“Often” is not really enough. And yes, at 213px blurry lines and artifacts CAN be seen.
I highly would prefer the standard Honeycomb/ICS/Jelly Bean interface. Perhaps like the dpi hack out there to change the ui, you could give us such an option in the settings. The "mix" of phone and tablet interface....I can't really see the tablet interface. It seems more like a phone interface that's been expanded for the big screen, instead of a newly created, dedicated and more intuitive interface.
+Aloysius Chow Yes, but it doesn't mean you can't offer encouragement to do it a certain way. For instance, there's a lot of encouragement in publishing your apps on the Play Store, but you're free to sell them separately for sideloading if you'd like.
Just to update, once I got my N7 I rooted and switched to 160 DPI and got back the full tablet UI, notifications are right by my right thumb and much less space is wasted by not having the split system bar. I generally use the device in portrait but when I want to use it in landscape I find that having the launcher not refuse to rotate much more satisfying, also having 8x7 icon slots is a huge improvement.

In fact the only downside I've noticed to 160DPI is that closing Chrome tabs is a little twitchy.

Overall I'd have to say that the Launcher/System Bar part (at least) of the Google's hybrid UI is definitely sub-optimal for me
What the hell.. Are you sane? 600x961? TVDPI?!?! And other delirium which is not understandable for normal people.
I was going to send the Nexus back when I realized it was locked into portrait (the home screen, that is). Then I found me an app on the market that can force all apps to obey screen rotation (and much more stuff), and I am finally happy. I am using it 90% in landscape, and I APPRECIATE FREEDOM OF CHOICE!
+Ed Burnette you can always use +Paranoid Android, it supports per app density :)
+Dianne Hackborn a question, how come we loose most of the apps in play store once we change the density, is it because we move away from the named standards? I've noticed this even with the apps that don't have any screen size requirement set
+1 on user choice between hybrid and pure tablet UI, please make it configurable...
+Dianne Hackborn You and +Hugo Barra  said that you guys wanted uniformity between android devices, no matter what size they are, so users can find same buttons at same places.
Why did you introduce a new disparity between nexus 7 notification bar / quick access bar and the nexus 4 one ?
Personally, It annoys me to fail at pulling down the notification bar on my Nexus 7 with my right thumb, just because I didn't pull far enough on the left part of the screen. I pull down the new quick access bar instead...
Where can we discuss this? Because it isn't working for me. I have hdpi & xhdpi assets in my app (and mdpi & ldpi), but Nexus 7 is only filling half of the screen.
+Yan-Fa Li Not true any more mate, the Nexus 7 Media Importer app has just been upgraded to allow writing to FAT16/32 USB drives through a USB OTG cable. Originally it could only read them on unrooted devices. N7 FTW!
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