Google has a long and complicated history with tablets stretching all the way back to the Motorola Xoom, the first officially sanctioned Android slate. It released a few tablets under the Nexus and Pixel line, including the new Pixel Slate. However, Google’s hardware team is throwing in the towel on tablets. Instead, it will focus exclusively on laptop form factors.
The news first broke as an unverified report in Computerworld, but Google spokespeople later confirmed the basic details. Several hours later, Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh took to Twitter with additional details. In his tweet, Osterloh clarifies that Google still supports its partners making tablets running either Android or Chrome OS. However, that’s not on Google’s roadmap anymore.
So, you can stop hoping for a Pixel Slate 2. That device launched last year to lukewarm reviews citing sluggish performance, chunky design, and a high price tag. With Apple continually improving the iPad, there’s not much room for premium Chrome devices like the Pixel Slate. On the Android side, Samsung is the only company making serious attempts to sell premium tablets. Most Android tablets today are extremely cheap content portals like the Amazon Fire devices.
Hey, it’s true…Google’s HARDWARE team will be solely focused on building laptops moving forward, but make no mistake, Android Chrome OS teams are 100% committed for the long-run on working with our partners on tablets for all segments of the market (consumer, enterprise, edu)
— Rick Osterloh (@rosterloh) June 20, 2019
Google’s first foray into Chrome tablets will be its last, but other device makers will probably keep going with Chrome OS. Android should have been a more viable tablet OS, but Google never did what it needed to in order to make it competitive with the iPad. At least Chrome OS has more functionality and can operate like a desktop computer with a keyboard attached. Google is also aggressively adding tablet-optimized features to the OS, and it can run Android apps. That’s made Chrome OS devices popular in business and education.
This shift in strategy means Google’s tablet team is disbanding. Most of those engineers will join the Pixelbook team, and their tablet projects are getting the ax. Google apparently had two Chrome tablets in the works. Both would have been smaller than the Pixel Slate with launch windows in 2020. Now, they’ll never see the light of day.
If you absolutely must have a Pixel Slate, you can buy one from Google starting at $800. It will continue working and getting updates, which are automatic with Chrome OS. Still, you might want to wait for the inevitable fire sale.
- Samsung Won’t Give Up on Android Tablets, Announces the Galaxy Tab S5e
- Google’s Pixel Slate Available for Pre-Order
- Hands On With the Google Pixel Slate