Google Pixel Tablet Q&A explains missing features

Google Pixel Tablet
(Image credit: Future)

With the release of the Pixel Tablet last week, Google took the unusual but refreshing decision to host a community Q&A on its first tablet since the Pixel Slate.

The Q&A has some pretty interesting insights, and to Google’s credit, it doesn’t appear to have moderated away criticism about missing features and the unexplained price hike that users outside the US have endured.

Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity for the Pixel Tablet involves the bundled dock. When combined, the Pixel Tablet and its dock become a smart screen, but many users are annoyed that the dock can’t be used as a speaker when the tablet is elsewhere.

That, it turns out, is because the dock doesn’t contain WiFi or Bluetooth, meaning it can’t connect to anything without the Pixel Tablet to breach the gap. 

Google’s support team justified this in pricing terms: “Not making the speaker dock a Nest Mini allowed us to focus on the best experience for the tablet and dock together, and to also offer the dock at a lower price for customers.” 

That answer presumably refers to the bundle itself, given a standalone extra dock comes in at $129 — $29 more than the Nest Audio, and $79 more than a Nest Mini.

Google Pixel Tablet detached from dock

(Image credit: Future)

Given the Pixel Tablet behaves like a Nest Hub in lots of ways when docked, other users asked why it wouldn’t act as a Nest Cam. 

“Ultimately we decided that due to the narrower width of the front camera and because the tablet wouldn’t always be on the dock, we would not pursue this use case at launch,” a company representative responded. 

On the subject of cameras, another question was on why the Pixel Tablet relies on fingerprint biometrics, rather than supporting Face Unlock. That’s down to the lack of DPAF on the front-facing camera: “It will unfortunately be tough for Pixel Tablet given the specs of the front camera,” Google’s support team responded.

The good news is that, in some cases, the shipped features will be expanded upon. Nest doorbell alerts, for example, are “coming soon” as are more Hub Mode features: “this is only the beginning– stay tuned for more!” 

UWB will be coming later, for one thing. “It will be used for future features that allow the tablet to communicate with other UWB-enabled devices, like Pixel 7 Pro,” Google wrote. “We don’t have any news to share now, but stay tuned for updates :)”

In terms of accessories, the company said that it would be working on increasing “the choice of covers you’ll have available over time.” There was no mention of an official stylus or keyboard, but there are some hints elsewhere that such extras could be on the way

It sounds like a cellular model won’t be coming, however. “Pixel Tablet is focused on a great tablet experience in the home, where tablets are used the most,” a Google rep wrote, while highlighting they remain “great on the go” if you’re able to connect to WiFi.

One of the biggest bones of contention for users outside the U.S. is the enormous pricing discrepancy. While the Pixel Tablet sells for $499 in the U.S., it goes for £599 (~$762) in the U.K. and Є679 (~$742) in Europe.

Google defended this discrepancy, arguing that the difference comes down to sales tax, which is included outside of the U.S., but that clearly doesn’t tell the whole story. The Pixel 7a is also $499 in the U.S., but that somehow translates to a price of £449 (~$570) and Є509 (~$557) across the Atlantic. The Q&A has so far ignored at least two follow-up questions highlighting this point.

While the question and answer session has been going for a few days now, Google’s community managers still appear to be posting responses in the last few hours, so if you’ve got something Pixel Tablet-related that you want to get off your chest, you can join the discussion here

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Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.