Scrolling through Twitter one morning, as one does before getting the day started, a simple tweet sparked so much emotion that it became the idea for what you’re reading now.
— Kellen (@iamkellex) September 17, 2021
Simply put, Android tablets are pretty much all abysmal. Foldable phones are a better implementation of the tablet form factor, and it needs to change. I’m writing this from my Galaxy Z Fold 3https://phandroid.com/guide/samsung-galaxy-z-fold-3/, the latest and greatest foldable phone the world has ever seen. But this single tweet has led me to order Apple’s new iPad mini.
Seeing the Nexus 7, in all of its glory, wonder, and beauty, was just a magical sight to behold. For me, it’s what kicked my passion for Android into overdrive. From rooting and installing ROMs, to realizing that stock Android is great, the Nexus 7 represented something that I simply had not experienced before. Unfortunately, it’s also something that we haven’t seen since.
Because of the current state of the Android tablet market, I’m on the side of the fence that says you should stay away from tablets other than an iPad. Microsoft’s Surface Go line is a “no-Go” from me, and Apple has fine-tuned the iPad to the point where it’s a better Google tablet than anything we’ve seen since the Nexus 7.
The Nexus 9 was pretty awesome, but had its own subset of problems. Then, there really wasn’t much to speak of from Google as it truly marked the point where the company no-longer cared about the tablet form-factor. Then we went through the whole Pixel C and Pixel Slate phase, but that was more about Chrome OS than providing a great tablet, even if the latter does run Android apps.
It’s Samsung’s World, But It Google’s Turn
As is the case with most things “Android”, Samsung is leading the way. From the best Android phones to the best tablets, and the best smartwatches, it’s Samsung’s world. And this is great for the majority of people, because their ecosystem “just works.” But there’s a reason why many of us “android enthusiasts” are chomping at the bit to get our hands on the Pixel 6 Pro.
It represents a “second-coming” from Google’s world of Android. The marketing hype train has already kicked off, as evidenced by the awesome (but limited) run of “Googley Potato Chips.” If you’re in the NYC area, you can go to the brick-and-mortar Google Store and actually put eyes on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, even if you can’t touch them yet. And we’re starting to see more commercials, ads, and billboards for the next Google “flagship.”
If Google wants to make a name for itself outside of the Pixel “a” series, this is what it needs to do. 2020 was a frustrating and confusing year for people and companies alike. In my eyes, it was a “blunder year” for Google with the downright-confusing release of the Pixel 4a, 4a 5G, and Pixel 5. But I’m giving Google the benefit of the doubt, especially after seeing how well the Pixel 5a seems to be doing so far. Outside of the 4K video recording issues, the 5a is the phone that Google _should_ have released in 2020. But I digress.
Back to the point at hand. For years, Google itself has ignored Android tablets. This has left Samsung to do all of the heavy lifting, adapting DeX Mode into a desktop-like experience on your tablet. And that’s cool and all, but it’s still all “Samsung’ed” out. That means you have to deal with all of Samsung’s bloat, apps that you’ll never use, ads in apps where they don’t belong, and layers upon layers of settings menus and panels that you’ll never think about.
Keep It Simple, Google
Simplistic is what we need. I’m going to be paying close attention to how well the iPad Mini does, as this is something that Apple fans, have been asking for, for a long time. Thanks to the tweet above that sparked all of this, I just finished placing my own pre-order for one. Apple has proved that there is a market for tablets, we just want (read: need) Google to start caring again.
Maybe a “Pixel Slate 7” or “Pixel Tab” is in the cards for Google. Maybe it’s just part of Google’s (publicly) unknown road map, and if the Pixel 6 series goes for broke and blows the company’s previous sales records out of the water, it opens the door for more devices.
We’ve been wanting and asking Google to fix Android tablets for years. It’s time that Google actually does it. Make apps more tablet-friendly with a dual-pane layout. Hell, since Samsung is slowly infiltrating the Google campus as is, work with its developers to non-Samsung tablets enjoyable again.
Please Google. Just bring back the Nexus 7 with a modern hardware design, and all of the Googley-ness that made us fall in love with the tablet to begin with.