Google’s interest in Android tablets has gone up and down over the years (mostly down), but at Google I/O on Wednesday, the company revealed there will be a Pixel-branded tablet sometime in 2023.
Following announcements for the Pixel 6a and Pixel 7, Google had a surprise reveal: an Android tablet. Few details were confirmed about the aptly-named Pixel Tablet, because it’s not coming out until next year at the earliest. Google said it’s announcing the tablet this early to show the company’s commitment to Android tablets, which is important when Google is pushing app developers to support tablets and folding phones.
Google shared less information about the Pixel Tablet than any of the other hardware shown off on Wednesday. The screen size is a mystery (it looks like a standard 9-10 inches), but it will use Google’s own Tensor chips, like the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6a. One shot of the back looks like there’s a magnetic connector on the back, similar to the Smart Connector on iPads used for keyboard attachments.
It’s a bit surprising Google is returning to the tablet game, considering its last few attempts didn’t work out so well. The company’s first tablet was arguably the Motorola Xoom in 2011 — Google didn’t handle the hardware, but the Xoom was the first device with the tablet-optimized Android 3.0 Honeycomb release. The Xoom was apparently successful enough to get a second model, but nothing after that.
The first tablet actually sold by Google was the 2012 Nexus 7, which was more successful thanks to its $199 price point and focus on media (almost like an upscale Fire Tablet). The Nexus 10 arrived the same year, a second-generation Nexus 7 was released in 2013, and the Nexus 9 appeared in 2014 — none of which were as successful as the original Nexus 7, which itself was still overshadowed by the iPad.
There have also been two tablets under the Google Pixel banner. The Pixel C was released in 2016, which was originally supposed to run Chrome OS, but was switched to Android at the last minute. Finally, the Pixel Slate arrived in 2018 as a Chrome OS tablet, but the entry-level model was a horrible experience (which was quietly discontinued after a few months), and all the models suffered from software problems. In 2019, Google reportedly stopped development on two smaller tablets and gave up on the form factor entirely… until now.
So, will the Pixel Tablet be Google’s first successful tablet in a decade? Google certainly has a better foundation now than it did in previous years — the Tensor chip in the Pixel 6 is impressive, and Android 12L/12.1 is the first version of Android in years with proper layouts for large screen devices. Android still lacks many of the powerful and tablet-optimized apps found on the iPad, like Adobe Photoshop or Apple iMovie, but not everyone is looking to use their tablet to get work done.
There are few options for an Android tablet with high-end hardware, with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab series being the market leader. Hopefully, the Pixel Tablet will at least be another choice for buyers who aren’t interested in an iPad.