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Google Pixel Tablet: The iPad finally has some competition

Google Pixel Tablet
(Image credit: Google)

Google is returning to tablets! The Pixel tablet was teased at the Google I/O 2022 press event, where the Pixel 6a and Pixel Watch were also announced. Google did not reveal too many details about the Pixel tablet, but there's good news and bad news.

Here’s everything we know about the Pixel tablet so far. It's set to be launched in 2023, and it could very well be a strong iPad rival. Or could it? Looks-wise it is not impressive, but a big software redesign could help the Pixel tablet compete with the best iPads

Google Pixel Tablet tease at IO 2022

(Image credit: Google)

Google Pixel Tablet: Uninspiring design

Judging the book by its cover, the Pixel tablet looks like nothing to write home about. The design looks cheap, with big bezels. The tablet itself looks thick and seems to have a plastic back. There’s nothing futuristic about the design, and we couldn’t find any similarities to the newly announced Pixel 7 phone, unlike Apple, which links the design language of the latest iPad Pro or iPad Air with the iPhone 13. The Pixel tablet looks like a simple streamlined slate with rounded edges, and not a tablet from the future.

Well, 2023 is still some time away, so we hope Google makes more improvements on this front. But, and there is a big "but" here — the Pixel tablet seems to have all the meat on the inside. 

Firstly, the Pixel tablet will be powered by Google’s Tensor chip, so you should expect strong performance along with uniquely Google experiences like super-fast voice recognition and Magic Eraser for photos. More importantly, the Pixel tablet it will have some serious upgrades on the software front.

Google Pixel Tablet: Inspiring software

Gone should be the days of Android tablets that feel like lame stretched-out phones. Google announced that the Pixel tablet will run on Android 13,  which will bring a big redesign of how the company’s software will work on big screen devices. The redesign is mainly around the tablet homepage and making apps fit together without wasting any space. Widgets are redesigned for the same purpose as well.

Google has committed to updating over 20 of its own apps to be more useful and usable on ‘big screen devices’ like tablets. This includes Entertainment Space and YouTube Music, and also third-party apps like Zoom, Facebook and Canva.

In terms of multi-tasking, you can now place two apps side-by-side and use them simultaneously. Google has taken a page out of iPadOS here and if there are two apps you use together a lot, you can re-open paired apps easily, too. 

The re-arrangement also makes settings a tad bit more convenient to access. Now, you just have to swipe down and all your settings will appear on the left and the notifications on the right. The layout is more clean compared to earlier, when notifications and settings appeared on top of each other. 

Bottom line: We're cautiously optimistic

Google marks a big return to tablets with the Pixel tablet. The last tablet they launched was the Pixel Slate in 2018, and after the disappointing showing the company announced a big cutback to their tablet development efforts in 2019. It is exciting to see that Google is planning a big comeback to challenge the iPad, and also Samsung devices like the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra.

Now, 2023 is a long ways away, but the Pixel tablet could have what it takes to make our best tablets list. However, it seems like the design needs more time in the oven. Until then, here are the best Android tablets you can buy right now.

Sanjana loves all things tech. From the latest phones, to quirky gadgets and the best deals, she's in sync with it all. Based in Atlanta, she is the news editor at Tom's Guide. Previously, she produced India's top technology show for NDTV and has been a tech news reporter on TV. Outside work, you can find her on a tennis court or sipping her favorite latte in instagrammable coffee shops in the city. Her work has appeared on NDTV Gadgets 360 and CNBC.