Google Announces Entertainment Space for Android Tablets

Posted on May 5, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Google, Mobile, Music + Videos with 14 Comments

Google today announced a few feature for Android tablets called Entertainment Space that combines access to movies, shows, videos, games, and books.

“Last year, we introduced Kids Space as a way for your kids under 9 to learn and have fun with recommended apps, books and videos on Android tablets,” Google’s James Bender explains. “And for the rest of the family members, we’re now bringing you a new Android tablet experience that places the entertainment content you love front and center.”

That new experience, called Entertainment Space, is described as a one-stop, personalized home for all your favorite movies, shows, videos, games, and books, kind of like Microsoft’s Office app, but for entertainment, not productivity, apps. (It’s also a bit reminiscent of the original Windows phone “Movies + TV” hub, which I always felt would have made sense on tablets.)

Entertainment Space will be available on Walmart tablets starting this month. And Google says it will bring this feature to new and select existing Android tablets from Lenovo, Sharp and more in the coming months.

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Comments (14)

14 responses to “Google Announces Entertainment Space for Android Tablets”

  1. jimchamplin

    Is there a particular reason that something like this is tied to brand? Why don’t they just put it on the Play Store and let people install it, or make it part of an Android update?

    • qaelith2112

      Same thought I had!! Makes no sense for it to depend on which tablet you have.

    • MikeCerm

      "part of an Android update" These are Android tablets we're talking about here, they almost never get updated. Because the OEM is ultimately in control of what ends up in the ROM, they need to get manufacturers to agree to add this in. They could make it a requirement for Google Play certification as they do with many other Google apps, but I guess they don't feel like drawing any additional antitrust attention right now.

      • jimchamplin

        Oh… See, I would have thought that since it’s part of the OS, that they wouldn’t get a choice, in the way an OEM can’t have Windows without say, the Taskbar. Android OEMs really get to control individual features? That sucks!

        • jimchamplin

          Can’t find a edit button?

          Anyway, I wanted to add that it feels so alien coming from the world of PCs where the OS is fairly monolithic, but when you think about it, it’s a similar setup to the land of *nix where individual distributions package different software with the base system.

          I would have thought though that Android would be more akin to macOS, where the high level elements - the parts that make them Macintosh and Android - are surprisingly OS agnostic.

          • MikeCerm

            Yes, and no. Google forces OEMs to preinstall a number of apps (Play Store, Gmail, Maps, Chrome, etc.), but there are lots of Google apps that OEMs are not forced to install, and the vast majority of the OS is open source and can be customized however the OEM wants. The way the home screen app launcher works is totally up to the OEM, the way the settings app is arranged... Various system-level features are totally open to the OEM to include or remove. For example, Android has supported multiple user profiles since version 4 or 5, but Lenovo used to disable this feature on their tablets and had their own "kids mode" instead, which was really annoying. They way they did it was janky; they hid the menu in Settings that allowed you toggle multiple users on an off, but you could still get to it if you searched for "users," and if you toggled it on it would just toggle itself back off. I assume they don't do this any more. But yeah, if you want to have Google Play services, Google forces you to preload a dozen apps or so, but everything else is up to the OEM. On Mac, you always have a menu bar and dock. On Windows, you always have a Start menu. On Android, there's nothing in the interface that is mandatory. Sometimes you have a 3-button layout, sometimes you have gestures, sometimes you can choose, sometimes you have quick settings in the notification bar, sometimes they're on a secondary tab. It's crazy.

  2. anthonye1778

    Fascinating. I thought that Google had essentially given up on Android tablets, so to see them publishing software specifically for that purpose is interesting. Perhaps they may take another stab at it with the Pixel line?

    • MikeCerm

      Google has given up on Android tablets. They shifted focus to Chrome OS for tablets and convertibles -- for like a year when they released the Pixel Slate -- and then gave up on that too, going back to boring clamshell laptop Chromebooks. I don't know if they gave up because they couldn't get developers interested, or if developers weren't interested because Google never tried to make tablets happen, but it's basically dead.

      I wish there were a legit alternative to iPad, but it's just never going to happen with Android. The closest you can get to a usable Android tablet right now is the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. Because it runs Chrome OS instead of Android, it will get software updates through 2028, which is nice, but it's really not anywhere near as polished as iPad is, and Android apps just are not optimized for 10" devices like iPad apps are. It's also held back by a weak CPU, and the fact that Chrome OS is really half baked as a tablet OS.

      • aretzios

        The Lenovo Chromebook Duet does not hold a candle to the Samsung TabS7/+ tablets. Based on current practices, these tablets will be getting updates up to 2024. Both of them are more usable than the Duet and I think that I know what I am talking about as I own both! In fact, the Dex mode in the Samsung tablets provides a better experience than Chrome OS.

        Google has mishandled Chrome OS badly. The OS has hardly progressed, many of its features are still primitive and the Chrome store has very few applications. Android apps are not optimized (on the main) for Chrome OS and do not get me started on Linux!! I really do not care that much that the Duet would be getting updates up to 2028. It is simply not as capable a tablet as the Samsung Android ones. These will continue functioning well even after they get their last update.

        • MikeCerm

          The Galaxy Tab S7 and Plus are nice for what they are, but when you consider that you can get an iPad for $300, they seem insanely overpriced. The software just isn't there. Dex is neat, but again, there's no optimized apps for it, you don't get real desktop apps (like you do on Surface) and you don't even get a real desktop browser (like you do on Chrome OS), so there's a lot of stuff that it just can't do. Sure, it's more modern than the $300 iPad, so maybe a better comparison would be to the iPad Air which is around the same price, or the iPad Pro, which is $200 more. But there you get a much better selection of tablet-optimized apps, slightly better performance on the Air, and the performance of the Pro is so much better that you wonder why anyone would need that much performance in an iPad.

          At $600, I just don't understand who the Galaxy Tab S7 is for. A $300 iPad is a great tablet for doing tablet things, reading, whatever. If you are like, "yeah, but I really need a pro-level content creation device," then the iPad Air or Pro is the way to go because they actually have the software to justify the price.

          • aretzios

            Well, regarding pricing: There are many ways to get the Tab S7 at a very low price. I did.

            Having used them I can tell you that the Android Chrome browser works fine, and so do the Android Microsoft apps (Office and others), if one wants to use this for productivity work. Virtually all the drawing apps that are available for the iPad work excellently with their Android versions (and there are many). So, the differences between the platforms are not as pronounced as you think that they are.

            As far as DeX goes, well, the idea is in transforming the Android system into a windowing environment. It works great here and it is even impressive in the Tab S7+. By the way, there are "cheaper" versions of these tablets such as Tab A7 and Tab S6 Lite. I believe that there is going to be a Tab S7 Lite as well which are going to be priced much lower.

            • MikeCerm

              The Chrome browser for Android browser might work well for you, but it certainly doesn't for me. Doesn't support extensions, any kind of adblocking or tracking protection... mobile Chrome is useless. Yes, there are mobile browsers like Brave or Firefox that are far more capable, but none of them is as capable as a real desktop browser. Also, none supports YouTube TV--not even Chrome--which is a dealbreaker for me, because the YouTube TV app is unusable for me.

              I picked up a Tab A7 around Christmas time for around $100, and swiftly returned it. Even at that price, I couldn't bear to look at the screen. The resolution was fine, but color temp was WAAAYYYY too blue, like almost 8000K. And the Tab A7 doesn't even support Android's built-in "night mode," which works like a blue light filter, which can be used to (sort of) calibrate screens that are too blue. Instead, Samsung has their own "blue light" mode that, rather than filter out the blue, just adds a sickly brown filter on top, affecting all colors, even turning black things brown. Horrible. This is how blue light filters on Android used to work before ACTUAL night mode was baked in at the OS level, and I can't believe that Samsung cripples their tablets like this. I mean, for $100, I was prepared to deal with lackluster performance. I had no idea that screens in 2020 could be that bad, and that Samsung would actually remove the ability to tweak the color temp at all. (And this wasn't a defective unit. I checked out other Tab A7 and S6 Lite units on display at Costco, and they had the same atrocious screen.)

    • Paul Thurrott

      I would love to see that happen.
  3. MikeCerm

    On smartphone and their high-end tablets maybe (they certainly make the best OLED panels), but the LCD displays on their cheaper tablets are trash. Read any review of the Tab A7; they all call out that white balance is VERY blue. If Samsung would spend a dollar to calibrate their displays they would be totally fine. Apparently they don't. The display on the $300 iPad has perfect calibration, 450-nits, 100% sRGB coverage. The A7 and S6 Lite display is around 300-nits (fine), only like 85% sRGB (fine for a cheap tablet), but the calibration so far off hat even a regular, non-techie person would look at it sitting next to an iPad and being like, "there's something wrong with this one, because the screen is all blue."

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