Google's hardware division is stepping away from tablets and concentrating its efforts into laptops. The news was confirmed via Twitter, thanks to Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services at Google, following reports that the announcement had been made in an internal Google meeting.
Hey, it's true...Google's HARDWARE team will be solely focused on building laptops moving forward, but make no mistake, Android & Chrome OS teams are 100% committed for the long-run on working with our partners on tablets for all segments of the market (consumer, enterprise, edu)— Rick Osterloh (@rosterloh) June 20, 2019
Google was keen to stress that it would continue to support the Pixel Slate, but it's drawing a line under its tablets business, meaning that it won't develop anything else in-house - that will be left to partners. Of course, software support from Android and Chrome OS will continue for tablets.
A Google spokesperson has shared an official comment with us, say: "Chrome OS has grown in popularity across a broad range of form factors and we'll continue to work with our ecosystem of partners on laptops and tablets. For Google's first-party hardware efforts, we'll be focusing on Chrome OS laptops and will continue to support Pixel Slate."
Google's tablet business doesn't have an especially rich history through the Nexus and Pixel programmes, but here's a run-down of the tablets that have graced Google's shelves.
Android tablets existed long before Google directed its Nexus programme at it. The Nexus 7, built by Asus, was launched in 2012, looking to show Android tablet manufacturers how it was done. Priced cheap - as was the Nexus way - at £159 the 7-inch tablet had a lot to offer for the money. It was also powered by Nvidia Tegra hardware and came with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. At the UK launch there was plenty of hole - no Flash support meant many streaming services didn't work - and Google hadn't yet fully released all its rental services.
The Nexus 10 always felt like the spiritual successor to the Motorola Xoom, taking Google tablets to 10-inches. The larger tablet was built by Samsung, powered by Exynos and also launched in 2012. One of the interesting features was a removable back panel allowing you to clip in a cover. The display was a cracker, with 300pp, a higher resolution than the current Apple iPad, but even through Android Jelly Bean made some changes to accommodate tablet use, the lack of apps that could really use the resolution - or just work in landscape - highlighted Android's biggest problem.
Nexus 7 (2013)
The update of the Nexus 7 in 2013 gave Android fans some hope that this was going to become a trend. It again came from Asus and was competitively priced, but moved to a hard plastic build. Again it was the display that impressed with a 323ppi resolution and we loved it for streaming Netflix. It was powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, but didn't offer a huge change from the 2012 model.
The following year, Google obviously decided that is was going to make its big tablet more compact and the Nexus 9 was the result. Built with HTC - very much at the top of its game - the Nexus 9 arrived with Android Lollipop, 64-bit software, and Nvidia Tegra 64-bit hardware. HTC also packed its BoomSound speakers into it. While the display resolution remained high, it moved to a 4:3 aspect, but there was still a lack of apps to really take advantage of the screen size.
Google tore down the Nexus programme and the Pixel was born. The Google Pixel C followed just a year later in 2015, but Google was now at the helm. The Pixel C was focused on productivity rather than out-and-out entertainment, with an accompanying keyboard. Again it was Nvidia Tegra powered, running Marshmellow, but despite the premium build, the software let it down. Connectivity to the keyboard was patchy and the lack of splitscreen saw it less useful than rival tablets.
Google's final tablet was a more serious stab at productivity. It switched to Chrome OS, more than doubled the price of previous Google tablets looking to compete with the Surface or iPad Pro. While the design was pretty good, some questioned the Intel hardware powering it, and it never really felt like a tablet - it felt like a laptop. Fortunately, the keyboard was excellent and Chrome provided a great browser experience - but while the Surface supports desktop app and the iPad has many high-profile productivity apps available, it always felt like the Pixel Slate couldn't be your sole working device.