The last tablet Google made was 2018’s middling Pixel Slate — something that was discontinued after a single generation. It used Chrome OS, and to find an actual Android tablet made by Google, you have to go back even further to 2014’s Nexus 9.
But there are signs that Google may be taking an interest in tablets again. A fresh bit of evidence comes in the form of a job listing (opens in new tab) spotted by 9to5Google (opens in new tab) where Google is looking for a “Senior Engineering Manager, Android Tablet App Experience.”
“We believe that the future of computing is shifting towards more powerful and capable tablets,” the listing begins. “We are working to deliver the next chapter of computing and input by launching seamless support across our platforms and hero experiences that unlock new and better ways of being productive and creative.”
To be clear, the listing doesn’t mention new Google branded hardware. Indeed, it specifically discusses working “closely and collaboratively with OEMs manufacturing Android Tablets and the developers building apps for them,” which doesn’t sound like first-party hardware at all. Yet, would a company that believes tablets to be the “future of computing” really just leave the playing field open to rivals without putting its own skin in the game?
An Android tablet future?
There are a couple of other interesting data points. In a long read about the history of Android tablets, ComputerWorld (opens in new tab) noted that in March 2021 Rich Miner, one of the original founders of Android, returned to the fold as CTO Android Tablets after 11 years away from direct Android-related projects. Interestingly, he retweeted the article with an intriguing caption:
Definitely a sad story, but there is an indication of hope at the end. What is that @richminer guy up to... https://t.co/quYezfYOhPJanuary 27, 2022
He then replied to someone’s praise for the tablet-based Android 12L update, describing it as “a great start (opens in new tab)”. That could mean nothing, or you could infer that it’s just the beginning, and nowhere near the final destination.
There’s little sign that Google is working on a tablet right now (a patent did surface last year, but it was actually submitted in 2019), although the long rumored Pixel Fold (or possibly Pixel Notepad) could well combine tablet and phone form factors if and when it appears.
But even if there’s no dedicated hardware in production right now, having a vocal internal champion for Android tablets could change that trajectory. And while the iPad dominates the market with around a 34.6% market share according to IDC (opens in new tab), Samsung’s 17.7% split isn’t to be sneezed at. Hopefully; Google will agree and we’ll finally see a worthy successor to the Nexus line in the next few years.