Google says Pixel Tablet is NOT a Nest Hub replacement (but it kinda is)
What is Google's strategy for future smart displays?
When Google first unveiled the Pixel Tablet at I/O 2022, there was a lot of excitement about what was to come. This is Google's first tablet since the Pixel Slate but has the potential to be as exciting and influential as the Nexus 7.
Instead of focusing on the ever-flailing Android tablet market, Google took a completely different approach. And it all starts with the Charging Speaker Dock that's included in the box and sold separately if you want extras.
Drawing immediate comparisons
Did you know that Google already has a big, touchscreen device with a built-in speaker and a selfie camera? Oh yeah, it's the Nest Hub Max, which has been around since 2019. Naturally, this was the first thing I thought of when Rick Osterloh debuted the Pixel Tablet on stage.
But if you read and listen to Google employees and PR talk about the Pixel Tablet, all of them say this is not a replacement for the Nest Hub. What makes this confusing is all of the focus on how the Pixel Tablet can transform into a smart home hub.
Google even went so far as to revamp the software, creating a completely different interface than what you'll find in the Google Home app. It's even built specifically for the
Nest Hub Max Pixel Tablet. Hell, Google went so far as to derive the name from its current offering of smart displays, as the Pixel Tablet includes a dedicated "Hub Mode."
With your Pixel Tablet docked, you can activate Hub Mode, giving you all the toggles, previews, and buttons you'll need to control your Google-powered smart home. That's not to mention the built-in Chromecast, which blurs the line even more between the Pixel Tablet and Nest Hub Max.
Android vs. Fuchsia OS
Of course, there are two big differentiators between the Pixel Tablet and Nest Hub. The first of which is the fact that the Pixel Tablet is running Android, while the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max are powered by Google's Fuchsia OS. Despite sharing many of the same capabilities, it's not like you can just fire up the Play Store and download an app onto your Nest Hub.
The second major difference is that while Google is including the Charging Speaker Dock, you can use the tablet without the dock. Dock it when you're cleaning the house and want to play some music, then take it off and play some games while you're chilling on the couch. It would be pretty awkward to try and do that with the Nest Hub Max.
I'm not sitting here and calling Google a liar, as it continues to say that the Pixel Tablet is not a replacement for the Nest Hub. But considering that neither the Nest Hub nor the Nest Hub Max has seen a revision in a few years, it's hard to take Google at face value.
Maybe there's a reason why this point is being driven home so forcefully. Maybe Google has something in store for an event later this year, where it unveils a new line of Nest-branded smart displays and/or speakers. And this is just Google laying the groundwork ahead of time.
Not just a tablet
On the surface, the Pixel Tablet looks just like an ordinary Android tablet with Google branding. But when you add the dedicated Hub mode and Charging Speaker Dock, it turns into something much more.
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Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.
Exhibit A: charging base included with purchase
Exhibit B: optional case offers no protection for the screen and has some goofy chrome kickstand (this case is NOT for taking the Google Tablet outside of the home)
Exhibit C: No first party folio case or keyboard option
I am happy that there is no keyboard accessory. A tablet should stay a tablet, this is at least my opinion.