Google introduced a lot of new Pixel tech during the I/O 2022 keynote, but for me, one product stood out above the rest. The Pixel tablet got about 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 growing product line incredibly exciting.
It’s not just another tablet
It could easily be argued that despite the “Pixel” branding, this upcoming tablet is just one Android tablet among many, one that people will put away in a drawer when the novelty wears off. And to be honest, it’s a valid argument. Even my ultra-powerful Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra doesn’t get much use aside from times when I want to use it as an additional monitor for my desktop PC.
So why is Google’s tablet going to be any different? the ecosystem In our next Android Central podcast launching this weekend, we’ll talk about recent Mountain View announcements. And as I continue to watch the various developer-focused sessions at I/O 2022 and have time to collect 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 old 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 couple) of foldable devices that can actually run Android 13 Beta 2. This latest beta is meant to open the door for developers to actually implement those Google-provided tools to than foldable devices and tablets. are better supported. Google is even taking the time and putting in the manpower to make the necessary changes to their own apps so there are no big empty spaces in apps like Play Store, YouTube Music and others.
Completing 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 Google confirmed that the Pixel Tablet won’t be available until “sometime” in 2023 But if you look at how the last year has been for the company, the premise of a Google ecosystem is finally within our grasp.
Of course, we don’t know numbers or details, but during the Keynote speech, Google stated that the Pixel 6 series outsold both the Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 combined. Then we have the Pixel 6a and Pixel Buds Pro at the end of July. The Pixel 6a aims to bring a bit of calming presence to Google’s budget-midrange smartphone strategy.
Google’s low-end lineup has been a bit of a mess recently, between the often-forgotten Pixel 4a, 4a with 5G, and the Pixel 5a. The Pixel 6a should solve this as it uses the same The Tensor chip found in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, along with the new slim design, complete with cyber camera bar on the back. It also includes features like Magic Eraser and Real Tone originally released with the Pixel 6. So you basically get a flagship Pixel with a few corners cut off to bring the price down to just $449.
Pixel Buds Pro brings the Pixel faithful a flashy new earbuds with fun colors and, more importantly, active noise cancellation. On paper, these should finally give us Google’s competitor to the AirPods Pro, and that’s exciting enough in its own right.
Further down the timeline, Google’s Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are coming this fall, powered by the next-gen Tensor processor. Accompanying that announcement should be the arrival of the Pixel Watch, which has only been rumored for the better part of the last decade. We don’t know all the details yet, but by the end of the year, this is what Google’s ecosystem should look like:
- Budget phone: Pixel 6a
- Budget headphones: Pixel Buds A-Series
- High-end headphones: Pixel Buds Pro
- Smart watch: pixel watch
- Flagship phone: Pixel 7 and 7 Pro
- Computer: Chrome OS and Chromebooks
That leaves only one category to fill, and that is tablets. Pixel Tablet fills that need, or perhaps desire, in my case, in the range of products developed by Google. If all goes well, it should help reinvigorate a tablet market that has largely remained stagnant with the exception of a few manufacturers like Samsung and Lenovo.
There are even some murmurs in the crowd that Google has taken a page from Lenovo’s book and introduced some kind of specialized base. This would transform the Pixel tablet into a Google Home/Nest Hub that you can take with you, giving you the benefits of the Nest Hub without tethering it to a power outlet.
Fulfilling 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, as the Nexus 9 and 10 just couldn’t quite capture what their smaller counterpart did.
Look at the various press releases and blog posts, and you’ll quickly see that Google is making its devices work “better together” everywhere. Seamless interactions between your phone, tablet, smart watch, smart home, computer, and just about everything else.
It’s an idea we’ve long wanted to see from Google, and while Apple and Samsung have done exactly this, it’s finally Google’s turn.
Perhaps the Pixel Tablet will be a flop, nobody cares about tablets and foldables, and this idea will end up falling apart. But I have the mindset that 2022 is the year Google finally delivers on the promise of a cohesive ecosystem created by Android and Google, before its tablet enters the fray next year.
All the puzzle pieces have been revealed; now we just have to wait to see if Google can successfully make them fit.