Google may finally be giving Android tablets more attention.
According to reports from ComputerWorld and 9to5Google (via The Verge), one of Android’s original founders, Rich Miner, is listed as “CTO Android Tablets” on LinkedIn. Google confirmed to The Verge that Miner is “leading software development for Android for large screens” on the Platforms and Ecosystems team.
Coupled with several job postings uncovered by 9to5 (which include the very bold statement that Google “believe[s] that the future of computing is shifting towards more powerful and capable tablets”), it really looks like Google’s starting to care about Android tablets again.
It’s worth noting that Google already has efforts underway to improve Android tablets, namely the upcoming Android 12L release. Currently in beta, Android 12L is set to improve the large-screen Android experience. While some changes seem to target foldable phones, many can also apply to tablets as well.
This marks a shift for Google, which said its hardware team was done working on tablets back in 2019 after the Chrome OS-powered, Surface-like Pixel Slate flopped. It’s worth noting that the Pixel Slate had nice hardware, but failed as a tablet and as a productivity device. Plus, it cost way too much for what it offered.
Still, it’s a bit strange to see Google about-face on Android tablets. Despite issues with Chrome OS (and the Pixel Slate), it still seems like the obvious choice for a productivity-oriented tablet or 2-in-1 device. Android-powered tablets could work well as media consumption devices, but I just don’t see them beating Chrome OS on the productivity front (even with changes coming in Android 12L). And that’s not for lack of trying.
All that being said, my hope is that improvements to Android as a tablet OS will help manufacturers make something that can better compete with Apple’s excellent iPads. Moreover, I’m already hyped for an incredibly unlikely Pixel tablet, perhaps a ‘Pixel 7’ that resurrects my favourite Android tablet ever.