OPINION: The Pixel tablet will probably be good hardware, but Android’s improvements should fuel Google’s belated fight against the iPad.
Google will take the time to return to tablet hardware. The Pixel Tablet will not arrive until 2023, which will give the company enough time to create a device that will finally complete its modern product range, along with the Pixel Watch.
Given the excitement following the surprise announcement by Google I / O, the company needs to ensure that this is a device worth the wait. Google says that this will be a first-class tablet, which leads us to assume that the ugly renderings shown in the teaser yesterday will not be the end product!
However, as much as Google may be enslaved to the refinement of every piece of hardware – from design to display, to webcams and power – the Pixel Tablet has no chance unless Google introduces its Android A-Game.
I would invest all the resources of the Android team in creating a version of the operating system that not only meets the best of iPadOS, but also takes tablets forward to a new and exciting era. I’m calling it now – the Pixel Tablet will only last as long as Android can handle it, and I’m not sure what we’ve seen so far is close enough.
Google is currently working on Android 12L, which is finally introducing some mandatory features of the tablet user interface. Like the Dock on the iPad, it has a non-permanent taskbar full of your favorite apps. It also allows users to select applications and download others in split-screen mode to work in applications simultaneously. There is an improved shadow for notifications with quick settings included. After all, it’s all like nuts and bolts in 2022.
Yesterday, on Google I / O, the Android team visualized how this will be improved. Tablet versions of more than 20 standard Google applications? OK great. A tablet-friendly version of the Google Play Store and new tools for finding tablet-friendly apps? Better late than never, boys? Third-party applications such as TikTok, Zoom and Facebook are also included? Okay, let’s do this!
You will be able to copy from your phone and paste on your tablet in Android 13, which is part of the company’s efforts to improve device connectivity. Google also ensures that you can use the stylus and place your hand on the screen without any unwanted input.
That’s all you’d expect, but nothing out of the ordinary, and it raises questions about how serious Google is about creating a truly competitive tablet. Google has plenty of time to refine this and add some experiences that tell users, “Wow, I need a Pixel tablet in 2023,” and the company needs to use it.
Like smartwatches, Google completely gave way to Apple’s tablet, allowing it to completely dominate the entire sector. I’ve never been able to figure out why the company didn’t hit the tablet OS the first time. There was a moment in the sun, almost a decade ago, with the Nexus 7 (great device, terrible longevity), but then completely gave up the ghost.
Since the middle of the last decade, Google has relied on other manufacturers such as Samsung to make the only Android tablets that can really compete with the iPad. But Google’s indifference to tablets means that these manufacturers have always been hampered by operating system limitations. The same story was with Android Wear / Wear OS watches, until Google finally included Samsung and Fitbit with Wear OS 3.
So while I welcome Google to take the tablets seriously, it will take more than solid hardware with a Tensor processor to convince me. We need to see a version of Android that tells us more about the future of tablets than the past.