Google may finally provide a half-decent iPad alternative

For years, Google didn’t seem particularly interested in the tablet market, but yesterday the company announced that it’s working on what could be the company’s first real iPad alternative: a new Pixel tablet launching next year.

Apple seriously competing with the iPad could be just what we need to finally encourage the company to take iPadOS more seriously and make the software catch up with the hardware…

Google’s lack of interest in tablets of late

The last Google-branded Android tablet was the Pixel C, released way back in 2015. It had a lot in common with the iPads: great hardware, and the operating system didn’t do it justice.

The problem was that Android on tablets was not very good. At launch, running Android Marshmallow, the Pixel C didn’t even have split-screen capabilities. It did not have a high-quality stylus pen attachment of its own. Overall, the OS just didn’t feel very optimized, and switching between apps felt sluggish. Virtually none of the apps in the Play Store have been optimized to properly take advantage of the increased screen real estate, something the iPad has had in the “pros” column since day one.

It was discontinued in 2017, and the only tablet Google has released since then was the 2018 Pixel Slate, which was a ChromeOS device, not Android. A year later, the company stopped working on new tablets.

Pixel Tablet Plan 2023

During yesterday’s I/O event, Google revealed that it is now getting back into the tablet business and plans to launch a Pixel tablet sometime in 2023.

The company revealed very little about the hardware, but did provide a sneak peek at the form factor and the surprising news that it would be powered by the same Tensor chip it uses for Pixel phones.

I mean, don’t get me wrong; Based on these renders, Google still has a lot to learn from Apple on the design front. The device has the rounded back of older iPads, which makes it look a bit dated, and the bezels don’t look as slim as the iPad Pro’s. But it’s still a big step in the right direction.

One thing the company has got right, and I Really what Apple would learn from is that the front camera is on the long edge, placing it at the top of the device in landscape mode. It’s even more ridiculous that Apple insists iPads are portrait devices when it makes keyboards that work in landscape mode.

Some tablet-centric software news, too

There are decent third-party Android tablets out there, like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8 series. But these are again let down by poor Android software support for larger screens.

However, Google finally appears to be making some progress there too, updating and optimizing 20 of its own Android apps for use on a tablet.

Starting today, we’re updating 20+ Google apps to look amazing on big screens and take full advantage of added functionality with much more to come.

The company has also been working very slowly to improve the multitasking experience on Android tablets.

A decent iPad alternative is good news for iPad owners

For too long, Apple has been able to rest on its laurels as the default tablet. Sure, it’s continued to develop the hardware, but as we’ve often said, the capabilities of the software continue to lag far behind, both before and after iPadOS.

Google’s creation of its own tablet is likely to lead to new developments on the software side, to take full advantage of a larger screen, and hopefully that will prompt Apple to do the same.

A great tablet from Google with a great Android experience for a bigger screen is exactly what iPad fans need: serious competition to force Apple to give us a user experience that makes the most of the hardware. Even a halfway decent Google tablet, with third-party ones more capable thanks to a better Android tablet experience, would accomplish the same thing.

As a fan of the iPad, I’m looking forward to the launch of the Pixel tablet.

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