Google can finally offer 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 one iPad alternative – a new Pixel tablet should be launched sometime next year.

Apple getting some serious iPad competition could be just what we need to finally push the company to take iPadOS more seriously and let the software catch up with the hardware…

Google’s lack of interest in tablets lately

The last Google-branded Android tablet was the Pixel C, launched in 2015† This had a lot in common with iPads: great hardware, with the operating system failing to do it really justice

The problem was that Android on tablets just wasn’t very good. At launch, the Pixel C running Android Marshmallow didn’t even have split-screen capabilities. It didn’t have a high-quality first-party stylus accessory. Overall, the OS didn’t feel very optimized and switching between apps felt sluggish. Virtually none of the apps on the Play Store are optimized to take full advantage of the increased screen space — something the iPad has had in the “advantages” column since day one.

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

Pixel tablet subscription for 2023

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

The company revealed very little about the hardware, but did give a taste of the form factor – and the unsurprising 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 in terms of design. The device has the rounded back of the older iPads, which makes it look rather old-fashioned, and the bezels don’t look as slim as those on the iPad Pro. But it’s still a big step in the right direction.

The company has one thing right, and I real What Apple would like to learn from is that the front-facing camera is on the long side, placing it in landscape mode on the top of the device. It’s even more ridiculous that Apple insists that iPads are vertical devices when it makes keyboards that work in landscape mode.

Also some tablet-oriented software news

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

But Google finally seems to be making some headway there too by updating and optimizing 20 of its own Android apps for use on a tablet

Starting today, we’ll be updating more than 20 Google apps to look great on big screens and fully control the extra functionality, with many more to come.

The company is also working very slowly on improve the multitasking experience on Android tablets.

A decent iPad alternative is good news for iPad owners

As a Default Tablet, Apple has been able to rest on its laurels for too long. Sure, it has continued to develop the hardware, but as we have said many times, the software capabilities are lagging far behind, both earlier and after iPadOS

Google making its own tablet will likely lead to further developments on the software side, to take full advantage of a larger screen – and that will hopefully prompt Apple to do the same.

A great Google tablet with a great Android experience for a bigger screen is just what iPad fans need: serious competition to force Apple to give us a user experience that takes full advantage of the hardware. Even a half-decent Google tablet, with third-party copies made more capable by a better Android tablet experience, would accomplish the same thing.

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

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