Google showcased many new Pixel technologies during the I/O 2022 keynote, but for me one product stood out above the rest. The Pixel tablet has around three seconds of screen time and won’t even be available until 2023 (if we’re lucky). Despite that, I found the idea of Google adding another piece of hardware to its already growing product line just incredibly exciting.
It’s not just another tablet
You could easily argue that despite the “Pixel” branding, this upcoming tablet is just one Android tablet among many, someone will be left in a drawer when the novelty wears off. And to be honest, that’s a valid argument. Even my ultra-powerful Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra doesn’t get much use, other than the times I want to use it as an extra monitor for my desktop PC.
So why will Google’s tablet be any different? The ecosystem. On our next Android Central podcast coming out this weekend, we’ll talk about the latest announcements from Mountain View. And as I continue to watch the various developer-focused sessions at I/O 2022 and have time to organize my thoughts, it’s obvious that Google is taking Android tablets more seriously.
There are dedicated sessions and tools for developers to create new apps or update older ones, with support for larger screens. Naturally, the first thing you might think of is the growing number of foldable phones. And arguably, that was the catalyst for forcing Google to make these changes.
But currently there are only a handful (and I mean only a few) foldables that can actually run Android 13 Beta 2. This latest beta aims to open the door for developers to actually implement the tools provided by Google so foldables and tablets are better supported. Google even takes the time and dedicates the manpower to make the necessary changes to its clean so that there are no big empty spaces in apps like Play Store, YouTube Music and others.
Complete the Pixel ecosystem
The main reason the Pixel tablet is my favorite I/O announcement is that it will complete Google’s “Better Together” initiative in 2022. Yes, I understand that Google has confirmed that the Pixel tablet will not be available before “one day” in 2023. But if you look at how the business has fared in the past year, the premise of a Google ecosystem is finally within our grasp.
Of course, we don’t know the numbers or the details, but during the keynote, Google said the Pixel 6 series outsold the Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 combined. Then we have the Pixel 6a and Pixel Buds Pro coming in late July. The Pixel 6a aims to bring a calming presence to Google’s midrange and budget smartphone strategy.
Google’s low-end lineup has been a bit confusing lately, between the Pixel 4a, 4a with 5G and the oft-forgotten Pixel 5. The Pixel 6a should solve this problem because it uses the same Tensor chip found in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, along with the new svelte design, with the cyber-robotic camera bar on the back. It also includes features like Magic Eraser and Real Tone that originally launched with the Pixel 6. So essentially, you’re getting a flagship Pixel with a few corners cut to bring the price down to just $449.
Pixel Buds Pro give Pixel loyalists flashy new headphones with fun colors and, most importantly, active noise cancellation. On paper, these should finally give us Google’s competitor to the AirPods Pro, and that’s pretty exciting on its own.
Further down the timeline, Google’s Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are coming this fall, powered by the next-gen Tensor processor. This announcement should be accompanied by the arrival of the Pixel Watch, which has only been rumored for most of the last decade. We don’t know all the details yet, but by the end of the year, here’s what Google’s ecosystem should look like:
- Budget phone: Pixel 6a
- Budget headphones: Pixel Buds A-Series
- High-end headphones: Pixel Buds Pro
- Connected watch: Pixel watch
- Flagship phone: Pixel 7 and 7 Pro
- Computer: Chrome OS and Chromebooks
That leaves only one category to fill out, and that’s tablets. The Pixel tablet fulfills that need – or perhaps that desire, in my case – in the line of products developed by Google. If all goes well, this should help reinvigorate a tablet market that has remained largely stagnant except for a few manufacturers like Samsung and Lenovo.
There are even whispers in the crowd about Google taking a page from Lenovo’s book and introducing a specialized type of dock. This would turn the Pixel tablet into a Google Home/Nest Hub you can take with you, giving you the benefits of Nest Hub without tethering it to a power outlet.
fulfill the prophecy
Once upon a time, we were close to this Better Together ideal, back in the days of the Nexus program with Nexus phones and Nexus tablets. Well, at least with the Nexus 7, because the Nexus 9 and 10 just couldn’t capture what their smaller counterpart was doing.
Scan through the various press releases and blog posts, and you’ll quickly see that Google is sticking the idea that your devices work “better together” everywhere. Seamless interactions between your phone, tablet, smartwatch, smart home, computer, and just about everything in between.
It’s an idea we’ve wanted from Google for a long time, and while Apple and Samsung have done just that, it’s finally Google’s turn.
Maybe the Pixel tablet will be a flop, nobody cares about tablets and foldables, and that idea eventually falls apart. But I think 2022 is the year Google finally delivers on the promise of a cohesive ecosystem built by Android and Google, before its tablet enters the fray next year.
All the pieces of the puzzle have been revealed; now we just have to wait to see if Google can pull them together.