One of the exciting and frustrating things when it comes to writing about tech is the onslaught of leaks that happen on a weekly (or daily) basis. It’s practically impossible to avoid learning about some potential device or feature that is in the pipeline. And it’s not limited to just one brand or company, as evidenced by supposed iPhone 15 features being revealed just a month after the iPhone 14 was released.
With the Pixel 6, Google decided to change things up a bit, as it tried to get ahead of the leaks by revealing its new flagship lineup in August 2021 before actually releasing the devices just two months later. This came as a surprise but was also a calculated move to start building up the hype train before the final unveiling.
Most tablets are boring now
That trend continued in 2022, as the Pixel 7, 7 Pro, Pixel Watch, and even a Pixel Tablet were shown off at I/O ‘22. The difference this time is that while the first three of those devices have arrived this year, the Pixel Tablet isn’t slated to land until “sometime” in 2023. But instead of just leaving good enough alone, Google went ahead and showed off even more features that are coming to a device that you still can’t buy yet.
There’s a very good chance that the Pixel Tablet could help change the direction of a market that has become extremely boring. Outside of the iPad, cheap Android tablets reign supreme, but there really aren’t too many differences between something like the Amazon Fire HD 8 and many of the best Android tablets. Sure the interfaces are different, and you don’t have access to the Play Store on Amazon’s tablet. But you can still download pretty much any apps you would want, regardless of the platform.
The Pixel Tablet could reshape the market
One major change we have been seeing is in the different features that Amazon has included with its ever-growing Fire Tablets lineup. Instead of just being a media consumption device, there’s a new push to turn these tablets into portable Echo Show-like displays. When you’re home, throw your tablet on a dock, and use it just like you would any other Amazon Echo Show. Functionally speaking, this has largely worked fine for Amazon’s tablets and is just seen as a “bonus” if you want an inexpensive tablet.
As detailed during the Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch event, Google is planning a similar, yet different, approach to this idea of a modular tablet. Some of the leaks we’ve seen already spilled the beans, forcing Google, yet again, to try and “share the goods” without actually making the tablet available.
Essentially, Google will also be releasing a “Charging Speaker dock,” explaining what the pogo pins on the back of the Pixel Tablet are actually for. When docked, your Pixel Tablet will be transformed into a larger version of the Nest Hub Max. This includes being able to control your favorite Google Assistant-powered smart home accessories or playing some music while you’re cleaning the house. And when the cleaning is done, just pull the tablet off of its dock and use it for whatever you find yourself wanting to do.
As the resident tablet nerd for Android Central, this obviously has me excited for the Pixel Tablet. The tablet market needs a bit of a spark, and while we’ve seen Lenovo try to accomplish similar in the past, it never really caught on. The Smart Tab M8 and M10 are still great tablets that pull double-duty as a smart display. But maybe something with a more elegant design, such as what the Pixel Tablet looks to offer, could actually be a catalyst for the tablet market on the whole. Recent leaks have even suggested that an upcoming iPad could include the same functionality, likely with Apple’s HomePod branding.
Playing the waiting game is annoying
While I’m absolutely infatuated with what Google is promising here, I’m also impatient. It was one thing for Google to announce its return to the tablet market more than four years after its last attempt. But it’s something else entirely to spoil all the fun while still holding its next product back until sometime next year. We didn’t even get a more definitive timeline for a release.
By the time it’s finally time for the Pixel Tablet to be released, all of the wind will be gone from its sails. I wouldn’t even be surprised if an announcement with pricing and availability comes as just a blog post. And while an argument could be made that Google is doing enough to keep everyone happy, I would like to offer a counter.
Google could have had a "One More Thing" moment
Even with all of the leaks and everything that we consistently see, how awesome would it have been for Google to give us a “One More Thing” moment? That’s exactly what the Pixel Tablet could have been. I’m not sure if we’ll see another device between now and I/O 2023, so I don’t exactly know when this could’ve been.
Currently, I feel like many will have forgotten about the Pixel Tablet by the time you can walk into a store and grab one for yourself. Maybe there’s still a chance for a surprise, as details recently surfaced regarding a potential “Pixel Tablet Pro” of sorts.
Or maybe, Google’s waiting until the rumored Pixel Fold is ready, launching both at (or around) the same time. There’s a lot of focus right now on improving the tablet experience, which in turn, is also improving the experience on phones like the Galaxy Z Fold 4. I guess I’ll keep kicking the can down the street until I can buy the Pixel Tablet, but here’s to hoping that a surprise event comes early in 2023, complete with Google’s latest tablet and its first foldable phone.
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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.