Google’s last tablet was the ill-fated Pixel slate, a device that was widely criticized — so much so that in 2019, Google said it wouldn’t make tablets anymore. In classic fashion, though, the company is changing its tune. Today as part of its hardware presentation at Google I/O 2022, Google teased the Pixel Tablet, a premium Android-powered device that’s set to arrive sometime in 2023.
As this product is months away from being released, Google is only giving us a scant few details right now. Rick Osterloh, Google’s SVP of devices and services, said that the Pixel Tablet is a “premium” device that will run on the company’s custom Tensor chips, just like the latest Pixel phones. What we haven’t heard is how much it’ll cost, how big the screen is or when it will be released. We can say that, based on the renders we saw, it looks a bit like someone just took the screen off a Nest Hub.
Naturally, the new tablet will run Google’s version of Android specifically built for larger screens, an initiative that’s been in the works for a while now. Historically, the big knock against Android tablets is that the software never feels like it’s built for the bigger screen, and that apps aren’t optimized to use this bigger view. Even with changes made to Android to support larger screens, it doesn’t necessarily mean developers will build their apps to take advantage of that space.
But Osterloh told reporters in a briefing ahead of I/O that Google has clearly heard that users want a larger-screen Pixel experience to compliment their phones — so the company is at least seeing some level of consumer demand for such a device. Whether that leads into market adoption is another question entirely, as neither Chrome OS nor Android tablets ever caught on in a significant way. Samsung has had some success with its Galaxy Tab line and Amazon’s budget lineup of Fire tablets have both stuck around, but Apple’s iPad remains dominant.
Given that this device won’t be out until sometime in 2023, it’s far too early to predict if Google has learned from its past mistakes in the tablet arena. But the company made a commitment at I/O to rebuild more than 20 of its apps for large-screen devices, and huge developers like Facebook, TikTok and Zoom are on board as well. If more third-party developers get on board by the time the Pixel Tablet arrives, it could have a shot at redefining what we think of when it comes to premium Android tablets.
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