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Entertainment Space doesn't mean that Google cares about tablets again

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 hero
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 hero (Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

A new feature is coming to some Android tablets called Entertainment Space. It looks a lot like the Chromecast with Google TV interface and debuts on Walmart-branded tablets (opens in new tab) followed by select models from Lenovo and Sharp, though there's no indication that this will be a required thing for manufacturers to incorporate. Your Galaxy Tab S or any of the other best Android tablets may or may not see this feature.

This new attention to tablets might be good news for any of us that are tablet fans, but I think it's important to look at the reason it happened. Google still doesn't care about Android tablets, but it does like quick solutions to capitalize on a once-in-a-lifetime sales jump.

2020 kind of sucked. Most of us were stuck at home for at least a short period, and once all the cracks in the walls were counted, we needed something to help pass the time. Besides the boredom aspect, many people quickly needed a way to see and talk to teachers and bosses, family, and friends using video conferencing. It was inevitable that things like tablets and cheap Chromebooks would see a significant uptick in sales.

Source: Google

The new Entertainment Space looks like it would be a nice way to see recommendations for things to keep us occupied, but it's also a way to drive engagement and even sales for Google. See a book or movie that piques your interest? Get it from Google Play! Here's a neat, little time-wasting game with in-app purchases that Google takes a cut of each time a transaction is made. Check them out! These are all small things, but they do add up. Probably to quite the sum when all is said and done.

Google did the right thing and found a way to make money from a one-time boost in Android tablet sales.

Google would have been stupid not to capitalize on this situation. It already knows how to combine recommendations with ways to make more money for the company because that's exactly what the Chromecast with Google TV interface is. For each time it drives you to Hulu, it is also driving another person to YouTube to buy or rent a movie or show. It's good business because it helps make money in a way that also benefits users.

There's another benefit, too. It makes Google look like it is doing something we want, namely showing more attention to the Android tablet experience. Google gets to write a blog post showing off how nice the new feature looks and telling us how much we will love it. Websites like Android Central, 9to5Google, and The Verge get to pass that news along to regular people who use an Android tablet and will probably think the new feature looks pretty cool. Google looks like the good guy here, and that's always a win.

I hate to be the one to say it out loud, but Google still doesn't care about Android tablets. If it did, there are a whole lot of other things it could have worked on instead of bringing a new discovery feed when you swipe the home screen. Google stopped caring about Android tablets when it became obvious that it would never make money from them. Without a gazillion user eyeballs glued to advertisements on a tablet screen, there is no incentive. When we saw a presumably one-time jump in Android tablet sales, Google saw a one-time moment to cash in.

Google is a for-profit business that is supposed to try things that can make money.

Yes, I look like a cynic who hates everything and thinks Google is run by monsters. I know that. But really, this isn't hard to sift through because Google is a business. It isn't a company that cares about us as people — though some in the company certainly seem to be caring, kind people — it is a company that cares about turning a profit and making its shareholders happy. You make shareholders happy when you make them more money. Every decision at every for-profit organization, including Google, is made to increase the bottom line.

I wish this news meant that Google suddenly cared about Android tablets again. Gear like the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus is pretty damn amazing, but once you step away from the work Samsung did to provide a good tablet experience, you're left with a Play Store full of things that work half-assed at best on that big beautiful slab of OLED in your hands. As a Chromebook user, I want to see large-screen optimized content and attention to a touch-based interface for big screens.

I'm not holding my breath, though. Entertainment Space will probably turn out to be a one-off that might not even make its way to better tablets that you should actually buy. That's sad, but that's also business as usual.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

27 Comments
  • Frig tablets -I wish they'd start caring about US! Stop constantly changing how things work! Let's invent the hamburger button, wait for it to become a worldwide standard, and get rid of it and hide it's contents on the other side under the user's face for no reason. Let's get rid of Google Play Movies and hide it inside YouTube. Let's kill hangouts and create duo. Let's kill this and create that. Let's rename this and move the buttons for that. And during all those changes does the UX interaction ever end up on the BOTTOM of the screen, by our thumbs? It's exasperating to experience, honestly. Do You Hate Us?
  • You're not wrong. Google seem to throw things at the wall to see what sticks... The problem is, when something does stick, they just go and peel it off the wall and keep throwing.
  • Google Play Music isn't dead. Move on from Hangouts man, it's embarrassing. It died because it wasn't popular, not properly. At least Duo is just a simple video call app. Google Messages has more users then Hangouts ever had. But it doesn't do video.
  • I'm not hung up on hangouts, ya fool, I am pointing out a horrible pattern of constantly changing things for no reason. I cannot believe your actual argument regarding said app is that they split the functionality into 2 separate apps for no reason. Hangouts could easily have as many users as messengers if it wasn't included as a separate app that did SMS alongside another SMS app. Google is confusing and annoying and hates its users to be constantly changing how things work for no reason. It might be fine for you, but it is not find for the billions of eldery and not tech inclined people on this planet. "Get over hangouts" lmao. Way to miss a point.
  • I don't agree with the removal of the hamburger menu however at least in the playstore it walks you through where they moved it through. They at least put some thought into it. Google play movies changed to Google TV, it has had dual access in YouTube for quite awhile through the library tab. Hangouts was great but never really caught on like it could have. They tried with Duo and Allo, only one of those could be deemed successful.
  • Google Play Movies is disappearing - you hadn't heard?
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  • Lmao. You think Apple makes tablets because they care so much about the tablet segment and not because they can make money off of it? Those is the dumbest article every.
  • Exactly. Google wasn't making money off Android tablets. Read before you reply, it helps.
  • Re-read the article, smart ass. It says Google is making tablets again because the market has shot up with the lockdowns and in turn wants to make money off of it....which is EVERY COMPANIES BUSINESS MODEL. You see to have a hard time comprehending stuff.
  • That isn't what the article says. The article says they've developed a tablet app because the market shot up during lockdown. Google aren't making tablets, move on. I repeat, read before you reply, it helps.
  • I repeat...you are talking in circles...have a clue before you comment, little boy.
  • I am about ready to return to IOS -- One can get an iPhone 12 Pro on Yahoo mobile for $700 (i am on Verizon PPD now) big reasons are iPad vs, Galaxy Tab A, I have an S8 now. Things I really like about S8 are headphone jack and LED indicator both of which Samsung ditched. The 12 Pro camera blows the S21 camera out of the water. S21 Ultra is comparable but too big for me. Icing on cake is IOS 14.5 privacy option. Google new announcement of informing people of advertising and tracking is a joke unless there is an option for blocking. Google and Samsung are fast relegating themselves to mid range and developing world. Apple is going to expand their lead in premium customers big time.
  • Maybe in the US , people are dumb enough to be trapped in Apple's restrictive walled garden, but the rest of the world will still choose Samsung and Google for freedom, customisation and flexibility without limits.
  • "people are dumb enough to be trapped in Apple's restrictive walled garden" Weren't you one of those "dumb enough" people not that long ago? Hmmmm 🤔
  • Oh no, he still is that "dumb enough" person....
  • While I agree that we shouldn't expect Google to do anything more with tablets, we don't know everything that Google is working on and company attitudes to certain things can change over time so there is a *remote* chance they could be doing more with tablets.
  • Finally an Android Central writer who understands Google's approach to Android tablets. They don't have one. There's been no Android tablet development for years. Here's hoping for some more decent ChromeOS tablets from OEMs though.
  • I want to see more Android tablet development from Google, yes a lot of apps on my Galaxy Tab S7+ are not optimised but it isn't nearly as bad as tech sites are making it out to be, but more can be done to at least optimise apps for the larger screens at least.
  • Totally agreed. I've never found it as bad as they like to make out. I've only used, not owned an iPad, so maybe it is so much better. I reckon we'll see continued Android app development from Google but not Android tablet development sadly. They stopped improving Android for tablets around when the Pixel C was launched in 2017/2018. Since then they've been actively working on updating ChomeOS for tablets. Adding the same gesture system etc... The problem with ChromeOS though, it's not open source so Samsung can't add their services very well and crucially can't make it pretty. Google are just poor at making an appealing interface like Apple and Samsung are. ChromeOS and the Pixel Launcher are functional but they don't draw you. Google needs to address both because a Samsung ChromeOS tablet would be interesting. I now use the Lenovo Duet which is a ChromeOS tablet but runs Android tablets as well as an Android tablet. The experience is very similar, with the ability to put them into windows when a keyboard is attached. It also has the advantage some Android apps that Google have designed for phones and don't want to optimise if you install the app you actually get the Web App. Google News is a good example. The Web app is very good so you don't lose functionality. But most of Google's apps are tablet optimised so it's fine, and after years of not being optimised Spotify is now too. It's why I prefer ChromeOS tablets. It fixes the problem when an Android app isn't pleasant to use. Like Facebook Messenger. The Android app is the only Messenger app that Facebook still haven't added split Messages + Conversations for some reason.
  • ChromeOS is technically open source, there are just some parts that are only available through official channels like Android app support.
  • Oh really thanks. Why doesn't any OEM change the UI or UX then? In fact what part do they change? Other than adding a web app shortcut ChromeOS is always the same.
  • The thing is Android on tablets can be as optimised as the phone apps, it's just that Google doesn't care and If Google had put as much effort into Android tablets as they have with Android phones, then Android tablets would have beaten the iPad with the superior hardware specs and the customisation, features and openness of Android and I still hold out hope that things can change because I don't want an iPad.
  • True. I guess they saw iPads lead and didn't want to try competing. It's always been odd Google realised Lollipop and never bothered to make a tablet version of Android again. They thought they were on to something by making Android phone apps have the ability to scale properly for any screen size. Which is why iPhone apps on iPad aren't useable. But it had the opposite effect of causing Android OEMs to be lazy. And Google is more like Microsoft than Apple. They don't enforce their policies to grow the business but it has a negative effect too. It's why Windows and Android outsell MacOS and IOS on volume of sales significantly. Apple wouldn't be prepared to open up MacOS so it can be sold in the volume of sales Windows gets. People like MacOS but it's not the laptop operating system most people use by a long way. IOS obviously does better in the developed world but most of the world it's all Android. Ultimately we'd all have preferred Google enforced tablet app policies like Apple does, but they didn't. They went for the easy route which does at least mean phone apps work, some well, but not much more.
  • big screen phone , and touchscreen laptop, makes a tablet useless
  • Not true, a tablet still makes a lot of sense, especially now.
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