While Apple and Samsung continue to push ahead with bringing out new and improved tablets every year, Google hasn’t been doing much to keep up – we haven’t seen any Google-branded Android tablets for a long time, although there are now signs that this could be about to change.
As spotted by 9to5Google, Google is advertising for several positions in its Android tablets team, which makes us think that there might be some fresh momentum in terms of the development of another Pixel tablet.
What’s more, one of the job listings refers to Android tablets as “the future of computing”, which is a bold statement to make and similar to noises coming out of Apple in recent years. It’s possible that Google is envious of the success of the iPad Pro slates and wants to put out something similar.
Hardware and software
However, as 9to5Google notes, this particular role looks like it focuses on building relationships with other manufacturers and supporting their attempts to make Android tablets. It’s only the “future of computing” bit that makes us think Google might have its own hardware on the way.
“We are working to deliver the next chapter of computing and input by launching seamless support across our platforms and hero experiences that unlock new and better ways of being productive and creative,” says the listing.
Google’s Chrome OS can also work on a tablet form factor, but again we haven’t seen many devices from Google itself that match this description. Now it would seem that Android is the operating system that Google is concentrating on when it comes to building tablets in the future.
Analysis: keep making the tablets
The last Android tablet that Google made was the Pixel C, launched all the way back in 2015 (and since discontinued). There was also the Pixel Slate in 2018, which actually ran Chrome OS – albeit with support for running Android apps as well.
That doesn’t give us the impression of a company that’s all that keen on making tablet devices, and indeed we’ve seen plenty of signs that Google would rather invest time and effort elsewhere. In our opinion that’s something of a shame, because Android tablets can be very useful devices.
We still miss the Nexus 7 tablets that launched in 2012 and 2013: they were compact, capable and affordable, and by most measures are some of the most successful devices that Google has ever made. Now that Google is putting more effort into its Pixel phones again, we wonder if tablets might be next.
Part of the issue has been software: Android has never really been all that comfortable on larger screens. We’re hoping that the recently announced Android 12L – developed specifically for tablets – can help close some of the gap to iPadOS.