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Is Google done with Android tablets?

Hold on, hold on. Sit down and hear me out. I know you’re probably fuming right now, but I’m genuinely curious why Google didn’t discuss tablets much during its Google I/O 2016 keynote yesterday.

Once upon a time, dating back to Android Honeycomb, Google discussed the future of tablet computing and the importance it would have in our lives. Now that we’re all used to tablets, it seems like they just aren’t much of a priority anymore. That was made clear yesterday, when Google mostly focused on the home and smartphone developments.

It kind of makes sense. If you’ve watched Google’s Android partners, several have started to dive deeper into Windows for tablets. Huawei, for example, introduced its MateBook during Mobile World Congress. Samsung’s TabPro S was introduced at CES and is now available to customers. There have been new Android tablets, that much I know, but they aren’t the “flagship” level tablets that used to hit the market every few months. Instead, they’re cheaper, more affordable slates that don’t really push the envelope further. To be fair, the Nexus 9 is still a great tablet, and it is running the Android N beta just fine – maybe we don’t need a new Android flagship just yet?

But I think Google has bigger plans for Chrome OS, perhaps to use in the tablet space. We saw this with early rumors that the Pixel C was supposed to run Chrome but, for whatever reason, ultimately launched running Android. Google confirmed today that Android apps and the Google Play Store are coming to Chromebooks, so users would still have a huge selection of Android apps, presumably, just with Chrome OS spinning the gears instead of Android. It seems to be that, if this is the case, that’s why we haven’t seen new Android tablets from Google, and we haven’t really seen an emphasis from OEM partners on bringing the newest hardware and software out.

I’m really just spit-balling here, I don’t have an answer to my own question. Perhaps Google and its partners are just waiting for the full release of Android N sometime later this summer to launch new Android tablets. The split-screen support seems to suggest they’ll be powerful, ready to take on Apple’s iPad Pro. But I think Google needs something stronger if it wants to compete with Windows 10 slates. Maybe that’s Chrome OS in the future — some of the Core i-powered systems suggest there’s a need for more muscle under the hood. But why? We’ll have to wait for Google to explain.


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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