It has been 6 years since Apple launched the first iPad and changed the tablet landscape forever. And it has been one hell of a ride. Though we’ve seen tablet shipments go down over the last couple of years, with 2-in-1 form factors like those of Microsoft Surface and iPad Pro, Apple Pencils and Surface Pens, hardware that would put laptops to shame and crazy keyboards like the one on the newly announced Lenovo Yoga Book, tablets are still the talk of the town and everyone is buzzing about how the next wave of tablets is going to make our laptops obsolete.
That said, one platform that missed out on the whole tablet boom in the early part of this decade is Android. With the lack of outstanding hardware from any of the hundreds of manufacturers and Google’s relative lack of focus to optimize Android for tablets, Android tablets never made it big. What they did, though, was commoditize low-priced tablets and popularize the 7-inch tablet form factor. And Google led the charge here. Nexus 7, released in 2012 and updated in 2013, hit the sweet spot with its reasonable price, great hardware and excellent display and was the go-to tablet for everyone who wanted a great tablet experience without paying the Apple tax. Google, too, did lose focus after that. The Nexus 9 was an ill conceived attempt and trying to quickly bring a 2-in-1 tablet to the market in the form of the Pixel C, Google forgot to focus on what made tablets tick, good software. But, after improving Android by leaps on tablets with Android Nougat, if new rumours are to be believed, Google might just be willing to dive into the waters of the tablet market again with the 7-inch tablet toting Google’s branding and Huawei’s design.
The rumour comes from prolific leaker Evan Blass. He says that Google will be launching this new tablet by the end of this year and that it’ll pack a 4GB RAM inside. This rumour falls in line with what news reports published last December about Google’s Nexus 7 successor packing high-end specs in line with the Mountain View giant’s Pixel C. If this tablet does exist, it won’t be called a ‘Nexus’, if other recent rumors are to be believed. Google is said to be re-branding its flagship phones (HTC manufactured, codenamed Marlin and Sailfish) to consolidate its products under the ‘Pixel’ name to showcase their concept of Android which runs on industry-leading hardware. In addition to the rumoured ‘Pixel’ and ‘Pixel XL’ smartphones, a ‘Pixel 7’ tablet with high-end specs and a great design does make sense to round out Google’s device offerings.
But then, will a 7-inch tablet look relevant to the wider market? With smartphones pushing our limits about how big is big enough and tablets wanting to become full-fledged computer replacements, the niche for smaller than 10-inch tablets is narrowing. So much so, that Apple is rumoured to discontinue its iPad Mini line next year and debut a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro. These are all rumours at this point, though.
At least in the case of the 7-inch Google tablet, we won’t have to wait long enough. Google is hosting an event on October 4, when it is expected to showcase two new smartphones, a 4k Chromecast, a Daydream VR headset and maybe a shiny new tablet to boot.