Google: Android Tablets are the Future of Computing

Posted on January 29, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Chrome OS, iPadOS with 81 Comments

Google Pixel C Tablet is Now Available

Failing again and again to make Android tablets competitive with the iPad, Google adapted Chrome OS to work well on 2-in-1s and convertibles. But with that strategy also an open question, the online giant has apparently had a change of heart. Now it believes that Android tablets are “the future of computing.”

“We believe that the future of computing is shifting towards more powerful and capable tablets,” a Google job listing for Senior Engineering Manager, Android Tablet App Experience notes. “We are working to deliver the next chapter of computing and input by launching seamless support across our platforms and hero experiences that unlock new and better ways of being productive and creative.”

(Thanks to 9to5Google for first pointing out the job listing.)

A couple of points to this claim.

If “the future of computing” really is “shifting towards more powerful and capable tablets,” then that future is all iPad. And Apple’s tablet realizes this vision right now, and it has, by far, the best capabilities and most expansive app and services ecosystems. The iPad is available in a variety of models and configurations, the base models are not expensive, and every single one of them is better than any Android or Chromebook tablet today. And that’s true across age groups, needs, and every other metric you care to mention. (“Apple haters” notwithstanding, I guess.)

The problem for Google is two-fold. It was too slow to adapt Android so that developers could customize their apps to work well on Android devices with bigger screens, as Apple did when it adapted iOS for the iPad and evolved it into iPadOS. (This may be due to its early tablets being 7-inch devices whereas Apple immediately went large.) And based solely on the evidence, Android developers have never been particularly incentivized to do so, despite Google’s more recent efforts; too many Android apps on tablets are still just stretched phone apps today. Meanwhile, “native” iPad apps—that is, apps that have been customized for that device aren’t just common, they’re the norm.

Today, you can buy cheap (in every sense of the word) tablets from Amazon, and you can select from a range of sometimes beautiful and expensive Samsung tablets, but neither does a thing to overcome the apps problem on Android. I don’t see Google fixing this.

One also wonders about Google’s ever-shifting priorities. After basically giving up on Android tablets, Google pushed to make Chromebooks compatible with Android apps and then adapted that platform for 2-in-1s and convertibles. But now it’s splitting Android to include an L variant for large screen (and folding/dual screen) devices and it’s suddenly interested in pure Android tablets again? What about Chromebooks? Is Google going to shift strategies yet again in another year or two?

Probably. But who cares? Just get an iPad.

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (81)

81 responses to “Google: Android Tablets are the Future of Computing”

  1. Greg Green

    My wife got me a Samsung tablet many years ago and it was nice but a little confusing. Google store, android store, Samsung store.


    then work got us iPhones and I was so impressed with the iPhone os I eventually bought an iPad and have never looked back.


    with the cheapest full iPad at around $300, with occasional sales down to $250, google will have to be very persuasive and cheap but good to get in the game.



  2. hrlngrv

    For personal use, iPads rule. However, it remains the case that more Android tablets ship each year than iPads. Where are all those Android tablets used? In businesses, maybe even a few government offices.


    Here's a link to IDC's figures: www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS48826122


    It shows Apple with 34.2% tablet market share for full calendar year 2021, so there were more non-iPad tablets than iPads shipped in 2021, so more Android tablets than iPads.


    Again, for end users iPads rule, but Google may not be wrong if it means tablets in workplace environments. If Google is mistaken for leaving that caveat unstated, maybe this article is also mistaken for considering Android tablets only for end users. Do all those Android tablets remain unsold? Thus, are Android tablet makers essentially insane?

    • wright_is

      And most of those tablets, like a majority of the Windows and Linux rugged tablets, boot into one app and do nothing else, ever.


      They have one bespoke app for one industrial process and that is all the tablet is used for.


      (At one place, we also ruggedised iPads. Lucky we did, one of the users managed to drop it into a drum of pigs blood. It was hosed down afterwards and he was ready to carry on working. Although even ruggedised terminals have their limits, a forklift driver didn't stop quickly enough and pushed the LCD touchscreen out the back of the stainless steel enclosure!)

      • hrlngrv

        Perhaps the future of a great deal of workplace computing involves a single app.


        Perhaps I should have said that the number of Android tablets bought to run only menu apps in restaurants or a limited set of services a la tablets on the back of some airlines' seats may generate more demand for Android tablets than total demand for iPads. I'm too lazy to check StatCounter, but I suspect there aren't many iPads in use outside OECD countries. The impression that iPads are all the tablets there are may be a rich country biased perception.

        • wright_is

          A great deal of workplace computing has always used just a single app, maybe 2. Only office/technology workers tend to use a wide variety of apps. But most industrial workplaces use a single app at each workstation. The user records their work into a single mask and that is the limit of their interaction with a computer during the working day.


          When I was working in food processing software, the managers and sales/purchasing staff had normal PCs and the full ERP system. The 15 - 20 workstations on the processing lines each had an industrial touch PC mounted above the station and the worker at the station registered what they were doing or received information about the current work process they had to carry out.


          The same for the stall management, the stall keeper registered new deliveries, allocated them a stall and kept an eye on the feeding and rest times, to ensure that the animal welfare rules were kept to, when the animals were fed and rested, they were then released into the production area...


          The stall management software was all they saw, day-in-day-out, no email no other applications, just the stall management application.


          At the other end of the process, the cold-store manager had a management app that showed them which carcass was ending up in which position on which line etc. and he could allocate them for dispatch, based on their quality and their customers' needs.


          20-30 years ago, all of that was done by hand and none of those workers had a computer and they entered everything into notebooks by hand. Some smaller businesses are still using pen and paper. In 2016, when I left, we were still converting 3-4 businesses to automated systems each year - although most of them, in Europe, should be automated by now, because it is a legal requirement, above about 50 carcases a week, the registration and traceability has to be recorded automatically online in a write once format - any changes or adjustments have to be additional recorded information, you can't go back and change the original classification, weight, medical findings etc.


          Only the very small slaughter houses and butchers can get away without it, and they usually sell out of their own shops directly anyway.


          Technically, a farmer can no longer slaughter their own animals for their own use, they have to take them to a registered slaughterhouse, to ensure that the animal welfare standards are adhered to.

    • david.thunderbird

      Most of those Android are probably <$100 or $50 tablets impulse bought and laying about unused.

  3. brettscoast

    What a wasted opportunity. Android tablets could have been something special had Google put a little more effort into the design (form factor) & app implementation. Apple got it right and at the end of the day using one of these Android tablets holds no real appeal and that's a shame. Your last line who cares get an iPad about sums it up.

  4. jg1170

    This has been obvious to me for almost a decade now, and especially since Samsung's DeX showed everyone how to do it. 80% of the world uses Android, and among those, billions use it as their sole computing interface. So it makes sense to morph it into a more productive environment for those who don't want or need a sledgehammer like Windows/MacOS. Tomorrow's generations will only learn "old fashioned" computing when forced to by the business world. ChromeOS is a janky mess that will never be a proper substitute for an elegantly designed Android interface that can be BOTH mobile and desktop to so many light-duty people (most human beings). Motorola now has their own version of Dex, so I think it would behoove Google to standardize the desktop mode before it all gets fragmented (again).

  5. digiguy

    I think there is an exception where Android (especially Samsung tablets) are better than iPads: video watching. And many people use tablet only or essentially for that purpose.

    Samsung offers tablets that are cheaper than the entry level iPads, have better screens (better aspect ration, laminated etc.) and especially better speakers than the base iPad.

    For a more general use, including reading, iPads are indeed a better purchase.

    As for updates, Samsung currently offers 3 OS updates plus a 4th year of security updates.

    Concerning security updates my guess is that most Android tablet users don't care, especially if their main use is streaming or video watching in general.

    And Android apps support for old version of the OS is much better than IOS.

    I'll give an example. My iPad 2 on IOS 9 (which was introduced in 2015), has a lot of apps not working anymore (youtube, streaming apps, tv app, plex, ebay, amazon, onedrive etc.)

    On my 2014 lenovo tablet (which has the 2014 Android 5, older than IOS 9, every single app still works, nothing has stopped working, nothing...)



    • ianbetteridge

      First, it’s worth mentioning that your iPad is 11 years old, and got six major revisions of the OS. That’s pretty impressive.


      More importantly though, the fact that much of the latest 3rd party apps won’t run on a five year old OS encapsulates the problem for Google. They won’t run because developers are actively adding new features enabled by each new OS release to their apps. iPadOS is an active developer environment, with new features and APIs being added, which means sooner or later developers deprecate support for older OS versions.

      • aretzios

        I think that there is some ignorance of essential facts. I do have a couple of Samsung Tablets and they are excellent in both content consumption and productivity tasks. The recent Samsung One 4.0 upgrade along with Android 12 has added some impressive windowing and multitasking capabilities to these tablets. Furthermore, virtually all art and design apps available to iPads are now available in these tablets.


        Android is better, in my view, than Chrome OS. I have a Chromebook that I hardly use. Its interface and launcher leaves a lot to be desired. In comparison to the Samsung tablets, it feels antique. So, I understand the need by Google to move away from it and refocus on Android (as it should have done long ago). As it is, app development for Chrome OS is really dead. All the action is in Android. So, I am not really surprised by this move by Google.

      • digiguy

        I don't think active development itself is the real reason why older versions are deprecated. The main reason is that Apple constrained the iPad with very low amounts of RAM (lower that the Android counterparts) until the air 2 in 2014 and this not only made those devices extremely slow with updates, but also obliged developers to discontinue those IOS versions, since the devices with those versions had those very low RAM quantities (any 2GB RAM iPad is still supported).

    • sscywong

      While iOS 9, the last iOS available for iPad 2, was released in 2015, mind you that iPad 2 was released in 2011. I doubt any Andriod based tablet can remains alive for such a long time


      I got a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 in late 2013 but had died for long long time already. Even if it still could run it's also unlikely that you can run any newer program either because of the version of Andriod it runs is too old or the processor is too slow. My iPad 2 running iOS 9 still running VLC and YouTube in Safari great with smooth video playback.

  6. ben55124

    Why distract from Chromebook? iOS users are the market for good tablets - they use iPads as secondary devices. Android users are the pc market (Windows/ChromeOS/Mac). If they have a tablet, it is likely occasionally used for consuming media. Generalizations just my observation.

  7. anoldamigauser

     think this points to the effectiveness of Apple's anti-tracking features in iOS.


    Every product Google makes is made to insure access to the browsing habits, interests, and personal information of those that use those products. Android exists because Google realized that without a platform of their own, they could be cut off. Same with ChromeOS. The Chrome browser was developed to give them more atomic data on browsing habits. G-Suite is a way to view document contacts, G-Mail to gain insight to communications and contacts.


    Always, it is about the data. Anything that threatens that is viewed as a dagger pointed at the heart of Google's business model.

  8. mattbg

    Apple gets to where they are with a multi-year strategy and continuous improvement/refactoring/optimization.


    If Google decides to focus on this and put some of their best people on it with a multi-year commitment to make it happen, they could probably do that. I think we'd all be skeptical that they would do that. At this point, I have to wonder what A-level Google employee would think that their own employer has what it takes to commit to something like this long-term.

    • jg1170

      Oh please. Yes they make very good products, but their success is just as much from their cynical platform lock-in as anything else. It's easy to dominate when your customer will pay a heavy social cost if they dare to leave you.

  9. Daekar

    I think anytime claiming that tablets with iOS or Android are the future of computing has something to sell. I have used both for productivity in the past and they offer no improvements on Windows or MacOS. In fact, my Galaxy Note 10+ offers a very similar experience when paired with a Bluetooth keyboard as do the tablets.


    iPads seem to offer good value for the money for the lowest end model, but under no circumstances is it worth putting up with the limitations of iOS on anything but a kiosk device or something that you only use to watch Netflix on.


    I honestly still feel like tablets are a me too category, something that folks should only buy after getting both a phone and a laptop. They just don't offer enough.

  10. sharpsone

    More like the future of toiletry. My kids use their klunker of an OS for school and it's a fairly painful experience especially for younger users.

  11. fishnet37222

    I have both an iPad Pro and a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7, but I really only use the Samsung. I just prefer Android as a tablet OS over iPadOS.

  12. blmuzzy

    My recollection from when I had an iPhone, mac laptop, & iPod was that Apple was far too heavy-handed in forcing one into their own ecosystem and not playing well with others. They'd really become the Big Brother they once portrayed IBM as being. However, if one *could* stay within Apple's ecosystem, their stuff worked well.

  13. miguelgigante

    “We believe that the future of computing is shifting towards more powerful and capable tablets”


    Were they not saying this like 10 years ago when the iPad launched? That somehow we had entered the post-PC period? I am still not buying it considering that there has been almost no shift in that direction. People who need a tablet to do serious work gave up on Android years ago in favor of the iPad. And people who use Android tablets casually either don't notice the shortcomings or just don't care.


    I doubt anything Google does to improve Android tablets will do much to create a new market for them.

  14. rupertholmes

    Give me a tablet that can make phone calls and a superior camera, nothing less than 20MP.

  15. bats

    It won't work? LOL....the fact is NOTHING WORKS! Not the Pixel, not the Surface, not even the Galaxy. It's not just Google, even Microsoft has failed miserably when they adopted Android to make their own tablets. Apple just has a stronghold over this space, that's hard for anyone to overcome. However, Google does have one slight advantage that it can use......and that is it's Chrome OS/Chromebooks advantage. BTW.......it's hilarious that we are talking about the name "Android" again. I thought the geniuses in the tech blog space were saying that Google was trying to get rid of the Android brand? This is what happens when someone tries to create "fake" news in the tech blogosphere, in such a believable way, that people from all over the space, starts believing in it and starts to micro-analyzing it.....just like the presumption another Android tablet will fail. Honestly......tech bloggers are not very smart.

  16. truerock2

    I can remember arguing in 2010 what the new iPad was going to be called, how much it would sell for and what it would look like. A lot of it was probably on this web site.


    My standpoint was that the iPad should and would be just a bigger iPhone. The iPhone had already proven to be an unbelievable success and there was no reason to reinvent the wheel. Obviously, people wanted an iPhone with a much larger screen - but, not as a replacement for the portability of an iPhone.


    Google should do the same thing. Take the best android smartphone and make it into a tablet.


    Of course - people just can't help it... they want to add a keyboard and mouse to the iPad. The very first iPad had at least a dozen keyboard options. But, what that means to take an iPad and add a keyboard and/or mouse... It is a conundrum. A touchscreen interface is not designed for a keyboard. Apple's investigation into that issue is interesting.

    • Chris_Kez

      “Google should do the same thing. Take the best android smartphone and make it into a tablet.”

      Samsung has been doing this for years with their Galaxy Tab series. It is great hardware. Neither the OS nor the app ecosystem (nor consumer interest) have really gone anywhere, though.

      • jg1170

        The reason consumer interest hasn't gone anywhere is because no one is making the RIGHT type of android tablet (until very recently). the formula is simple...$300 maximum, 11-13" screen, real pogo-pin keyboard (no bluetooth junk) and touchpad, and not terribly laggy. Samsung's cheap tablets don't offer real keyboards, and the touchpad is on on the flagship that is way out of reach for the target customer (Baby Boomer mom ad pop in middle America). I believe that Google purposefully pushed OEM's away from decent, affordable "Android Laptops" if they wanted to make Chromebooks, the ecosystem that Google prefers to push. But there is a market and you have to look no further than Home Shopping Network. For years they have pushing AWFUL, but fully featured android laptops by such fine names as "Compaq" "RCA" and now "Packard Bell". Their most recent offering, the "Packard Bell" laptop is actually becoming the middle-America goldilocks device I speak of, and had I know about it I would have purchased one for my elderly mother instead of the clunky chromebook I had to get. As simple as a chromebook may seem, there is a learning curve compared to android which woks as everyone expects it to.

  17. ids

    Paul,


    I really respect you and your opinions but your "just go Apple route" is lazy advice at best. I got caught in the Apple ecosystem once before and is wasn't pleasant to escape (circa Ipad 2/3, Iphone 4, Uni Mac etc)


    There is nothing wrong with the decent Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablets - apart from the cost ! I have had a 3, 4 and 6 and all have been brilliant. Samsung are part of the problem with their crapware but as long as folks keep buying the phones they will keep doing it. Just don't sign in to their crap, disable any apps that cant be removed and use Google Play store.

  18. jonsimon

    We have an original iPad Air but needed a new tablet couldn't justify the price so we looked at Android and selected last year's model Lenovo device and have not had any issues with not finding apps. All the ones we want are available

  19. rmlounsbury

    I know one thing I hear rather frequently still is that the gold standard for Android tablets remains the Nexus 7 (echoing Paul's note about starting small). The only company I ever see anything compelling from on the Android side is Samsung. If it wasn't for Samsung's propensity to load their Android devices up with duplicate apps and a still heavy skin I might be interested. But I don't like either.


    As with all things Google they continue to have the worst ADD of all the major tech companies. Given all the iterations of chat and communication apps that Google has created, hailed as the next great thing, and then killed. Now they have their odd ChromeOS/Android conundrum where neither is truly great at any one thing with it comes to laptops/tablets. Hopefully Android 12L makes Android not feel like an awkward bolt on to ChromeOS. But for that to happen Google needs to woo developers to build for larger screens. The same problem Microsoft had trying to get developers to built mobile apps for Windows Mobile. We know how that worked out.


    I would note, I did actually like the Pixel Slate. But, it was overpriced and ChromeOS wasn't ready for a tablet first interface.

  20. christianwilson

    I think Google needs new leadership so they can be taken seriously again.


    Even if you discount the "Killed by Google" website (which is kind of BS when you look close at it) Google has an awful habit of doing or saying things that they never back for long. I read this title and immediately wondered how long they will say this before their attention and resources go to the next thing.


    As a long standing supporter of tablet computing, I would love to see Google back a tablet initiative that gains traction and better competes with the iPad. They have a lot of work ahead of them, though, and I have no confidence they will put that work in before pivoting to some other priority.

  21. dallasnorth40

    I have been happily using a Samsung Galaxy Tab s53 for a couple of years now and it has been a great device for browsing, watching movies and TV and even some productivity tasks. It's very tiresome to constantly hear that constant drumbeat on this site of "buy an iPad" over and over and over. Well, I am never going to do that. I don't like apple and I'm never going to buy any of their products. And life is still very good without my contributing to the growth of the evil empire.

    • dallasnorth40

      Sorry for the typo, that's a Galaxy Tab S5e. And even after more than two years, I would still put its screen and specs up against any iPad.

      • digiguy

        The S5e is probably the best value for video watching. In a recent Macrumors forum post I suggested that to a poster who was looking to buy a base iPad for video watching only. The S5e has much better screen and speakers, costs less, and for streaming, speed is not important.

  22. melinau

    Absolutely so.

    Google's almost dilletante approach seems based on some arrogant assumption that because it has Search sown-up & Android 'phones dominate the market in terms of numbers, it will inherit “the future of computing.”

    I'm no fan of Apple's software nor Business model but the only Tablets which are even vaguely likely to provide the power & functionality needed to become the "future" are made by Apple & contain their brilliant ARM-based chips.

  23. jaunty

    Maybe this should just be re-named "iOS Supersite"


    Thurrott is just all in on Apple.

  24. djross95

    No doubt this will continue to be Google's tablet strategy for--checks notes--three months at least!

  25. rob_segal

    The iPad ecosystem and app support are so far ahead of Android, I don't see Google staying focused on tablets long enough to instill confidence in Android developers and significantly close the gap. For people looking to purchase a tablet, the choice is simple. Just buy an iPad. Even the entry-level iPad will be a much better experience than any Android tablet you can get your hands on.

    • RobertJasiek

      "For people looking to purchase a tablet, the choice is simple. Just buy an iPad."


      This may be a default advice for people who only consider Android / iPadOS, accept Apple's paradigm and can afford the basic iPad. There is, however, more choice: Windows, although currently mostly Surfaces, clones, ruggedised, or a few eccentric models.

      • rob_segal

        Windows has a weaker ecosystem and tablet experience than Android, much less iPad. For tablets, there's only one choice consumers should make. Just buy an iPad.

        • RobertJasiek

          Ecosystem outside a tablet and its software I don't care, except for local backup / file transfer. Whatever I need outside I find in browser, email program, Usenet newsreader and game servers' clients, which are much better for Windows than Android / iPadOS, for which there might even be none.


          Tablet experience? There are several aspects of it. One is ease of GUI usage with fingers; I have tested it on Windows and it works for me. I understand that using fingers on Android / iPadOS may be better, but Windows is good enough for my taste. Another aspect is GUI designed for mobile use. One can choose Windows software with GUIs working well on mobile devices. Or one can choose software with desktop GUIs that do not even exist for Android / iPadOS. Of course, tablet experience is very subjective and everybody might have a different opinion. For me, software functionality beats GUI tablet experience.


          Even as a consumer, iPad has always only been an emergency solution. If there was iPad-like hardware with Windows, I would immediately prefer it to an iPad even for consumption. This is so because even consumption relies on file management and transfer (extremely better under Windows) and I also have special consumption needs impossible on an iPad due to missing software with sufficient functionality.


          Hence your advice is wrong in its generality, even for people completely unaffected by any of the problems I have experienced in i(Pad)OS.

          • rob_segal

            The user experience, app quality and availability, and ecosystem the iPad offers is second to none and it's not even close. There's no need to micro-manage it. It has the apps and services the average consumer wants and needs. It works all day every day, simply and reliably. Great selection of accessories. The iPad is so far ahead of the competition, there's really no debate in terms of what to recommend to people. Google's starts and stops and Windows' legacy, lack of modern apps and ecosystem keeps them out of the discussion. I like Windows. I use Android. If Windows had the developer support and an ecosystem that could come close to rivaling Apple, I would suggest it. However, that's not the case. The iPad is significantly better than the competition in every way that a tablet should be.

            • RobertJasiek

              You mention the average consumer; for him, you are right if we assume a) him to need no better / other file management than the iPad permits and b) that he is no hardware-hungry gamer. The average consumer has no special need so never needs what iPad software offers. Cute. Just assume everybody to be the average;) In reality, however, many people do have at least one special need. Choosing an iPad then means to sacrifice related consumption.


              The average consumer does not read terms, does not care whether a cloud is used, does not care if paying too much because of his data being abused and does not make backups. Does that mean that the average consumer is reasonable? No. Unreasonable majority dominating the average must be replaced by maintaining choice not only among apps for mainstream applications.

              • jdawgnoonan

                I have a Surface Pro 7 and I have an iPad Pro. Yes, there are things that I can do on the Surface that I cannot do on the iPad, but the things that the iPad can do it does far better than my Surface. Aside from that, as a tablet, I feel that the touch driven UI on iPad works far better. I prefer the browsers on the Surface, but they are not as user friendly if I am using touch, the touch is not even as responsive.

              • rob_segal

                The ability to micro-manage where you can put a file isn't worth sacrificing everything else. In 2010, the iPad had no competition when it was introduced on stage. In 2022, it has no competition. Tablet initiatives came from other companies and they have failed to create a true alternative choice. By far, the iPad has the best app selection, ecosystem, hardware, accessories, and user experience. I wish there was a compelling option other than the iPad, but there isn't one. It's not Apple's fault no other company can compete with everything the iPad has to offer.


                "This device sucks. The user experience is frustrating. I can't find cool accessories. There's no apps. Meh ecosystem. But at least, I can put a file in whatever folder I want, even though it's just as easy to let the OS and the apps handle that for me." Just buy an iPad. It was the best tablet in 2010 with no one even in the rearview mirror. It's still the best tablet with no one even in the rearview mirror.

                • RobertJasiek

                  You speak of "a file" and its micro-management while I speak of 100,000 files per file type. You speak of no competition also in recent years but it depends on purposes what tablet serves the best. You claim the most softwares but this is Windows - iPadOS might only have the most socially-bound commercial apps, such as for shops and tickets. You speak of the best hardware but again it depends on purposes (and different iPad models differ in what they serve best). You speak of best user experience but this depends on purposes, usages, actual usage experience of each user and his preferences. E.g., the iPad display does not even remotely compete with my much better desktop display.


                  Where you are absolutely right is that tablet competition should be very much better, although we will disagree about details. However, also iPads deserve great improvement, e.g., as to repairability.

      • wright_is

        I've used Surface devices and we have robust Windows tablets at work for booking recipe materials out of stores and into the reactors - they are linked to the small pushable forklifts with scales built into the forks for weighing the product out of stores, the weights required are shown on the tablet, the worker stacks chemicals up to what is needed on the forklift and the tablet takes the actual weight and books it automatically into the warehousing system and the ERP system.


        For such tasks, they are great products, if expensive - I think the current Pentium based "tough" tablets, with integrated laser barcode scanners cost over $2,000.


        But, for general consumption tasks, they are less suitable. Having had Fire tablets, Windows tablets (various sizes and performance levels, from Atom to Core i5) and an iPad, the Windows tablets are excellent, if you have a bespoke task or you mainly use it as a PC and need it to work as a consumption device "now-and-then", but as a replacement for a "real" tablet (i.e. one with a bespoke tablet orientated operating system and wealth of tablet orientated applications), it plays second fiddle - I say that as someone who used a Samsung ATIV for 18 months and a Surface Pro for nearly 2 years as the only tablet.

        • Chris_Kez

          My kids have access to an iPad (with Logitech Combo keyboard and trackpad), a Surface Pro (with Surface keyboard), and a Chromebook (with touchscreen). They prefer the iPad for basically everything. They enjoy the Surface and will happily use that for a number of web-based school programs that will not run on the iPad, as well as for Netflix and a handful of games. They stopped bringing the Chromebook home from school once they realized they could just use Chrome on the Surface; I haven’t seen it since Christmas break.

  26. bschnatt

    I'm no fan of Google (or Microsoft or Apple or Fakebook or....) but I'm glad to see Google doing this. For those of us in the Android camp, this can only be a good thing. I have my apps, favorite launcher (Microsoft Launcher), et. al in the Android world. I'm currently using a Kindle table, but if Google improves their tablet experience (and Microsoft adds to the Your Phone experience), I can see myself moving away from Kindle. I like the "whole Amazon" experience you get from a Kindle, but I also like apps!

    • L Gilles

      Do you trust Google to be serious enough on a subject more than two years in a row ? I don't.

    • wright_is

      Yes, I used Amazon (Kindle) Fire tablets - at some point they dropped the Kindle part of the name). I always poo-pooed the iPad as being expensive and not really much use (I used a couple at work, but for email and a couple of bespoke apps back in 2013/2014 and they were "nothing special". The Fire tablets were so cheap, it was worth a shot.


      (I also had a Samsung ATIV and a Surface Pro 3, which were great devices, allowing running "real" applications, as well as working as tablets. But I quickly switched back to a "normal" laptop, if a convertible, with the HP Spectre X360, as I worked out that I spent less than 1% of my time in tablet mode, I then worked out that I needed more power and the Spectre spent less than 1% of its time away from the docking station, so I went desktop again.)


      That was in 2014. They became unusably slow over 2020 and in early 2021, I decided to replace them. Listening to Paul always saying how superior the iPads were, and the mini being relatively cheap, if expensive, compared to a new Fire tablet, I decided to get one for my wife first. She was frustrated at first, because it was so different to the Fire tablet experience, but once I set up her standard apps for her, she has been very happy with it. (I just wish I'd waited 4-5 months for the new mini, c'est la Vie.) I then bought myself an Air.


      It really is night and day. I find myself using the iPad much more than I did the Fire, although anything that involves a lot of typing still has me waiting until I can get back to a real PC with a real, ergonomic keyboard.

      • L Gilles

        The Fire tablets are a cheap (and good) solution for Netflix, Prime Video, Twitch, ... on the go.

        It's not much but it's a really great success.

        • wright_is

          Yes, it was funny, it could play Prime Video without hick-ups, but it was unusably slow showing normal websites (taking up to a minute to display a page like this one).

    • bschnatt

      "Kindle tablet", not "Kindle table". Ugh. Editing, guys??

  27. Stabitha.Christie

    To be fair to google. It’s a job posting and “We have totally phoned in making tablets and it’s all a bit of a mess” isn’t the best recruiting language.

  28. simard57

    are the apps for iPad developed on an iPad?


    • davidjhupp

      Technically yes, but the ability to develop full, real apps using Swift Playgrounds for iPad is still rather nascent. But iPad developers have started using it, a handful of real apps have been developed and published using it, and the iPad developers who have used Swift Playgrounds seem pretty excited about its potential and the direction in which Apple seems to be taking it.

  29. datameister

    [Google] was too slow to adapt Android so that developers could customize their apps to work well on Android devices with bigger screens


    I'm pretty sure they did that back years ago with Android 3, 4, or maybe 5 (somewhere in there) with features in the OS that could fill a larger screen by switching to a menu+work area on a tablets. Like when Gmail shows both the list of labels plus the open email at the same time.


    I don't think this has been an OS problem so much as a chicken or egg problem. Android tablets have been pretty junky or low powered for years. There is almost no competition or variety at the level of Apple's iPads so the user base is too small for most developers to care about.

  30. JerryH

    I've never experienced the problem with "stretched" apps on Android tablets - probably because I don't use many apps there. Honestly I really just use Chrome and Google Play Books, both of which are fine. My big problem with the Android tablets is that they never get updates. Like, at all. My current one is a Huawei - purchased just before the US started trying to block Huawei. It is on Android 8. And it never got a single update. It seems to be pretty common on tablets from multiple vendors. I do hope Google comes out with a small to medium first party Android tablet again - I'd grab one for myself and one for my wife immediately. But not another Nexus 9 - that thing, besides being too slow, was too big for comfortable reading with one hand.

    • wright_is

      Our local newspaper is a "stretched" app on the iPad. They only have an iPhone version and on the iPad, it is just scaled up, which leaves photos in the articles pixelated and the controls blurry. Luckily text is text and is scaled properly.

    • rob_segal

      The lack of tablet-optimized apps on Android is a big problem, one I think Google cannot fix. The interest is just not there. A small to a medium-sized tablet won't help either. I agree with Paul about early 7 inch devices and Google being too slow. Android developers didn't care or benefit from optimizing their apps to run on tablets. To this day, they still don't care. If Google was quicker to react and pushed larger screen tablets, they may have had more buy-in from Android developers and the gap between the iPad and Android tablets would be smaller than the Grand Canyon that the gap between the two is now.

  31. michael_charlton

    Ah, the Pixel C (headline photo on the article)... such a brilliant piece of hardware utterly kneecapped by Android, instead of having ChromeOS as that particular "tablet" was originally designed for!


    I'd welcome some competition in the tablet arena from them, but there's just nothing capable of touching how well the iPad works (for me, anyway).



  32. sherlockholmes

    lol. Yeah, not really.

  33. wpcoe

    I wonder if they are more addressing (speculating) that the current applications that require significant horsepower on a local computer – Photoshop, video editing, games, Windows – will be transitioned to the cloud a la Windows 365 and Office 365. If the processing muscle is up in the cloud all you need is a capable browser, and even an Android table (with a wide enough internet pipeline) would be sufficient? It's a stretch, but it's compatible with the statement "Android tablets [can be] “the future of computing.”."

  34. bobnetgeek

    Yeah, iPad's are great for those with a lot of money and don't mind a limited ecosystem. But for those more technically minded, the limits are severe. Sure, pretty graphics and smooth functions are characteristic for IOS' limited application selection. But for more reasonably priced hardware, Android is the most unlimited player, and even Windows hardware serves for those who use resource intensive appls, and/or want the full Windows interoperability. For sure, if you want an Apple product, you should stick with that. Good graphics, pretty equipment, and sophistication suitable for non-technical folks, and their mothers!

    • jason_e

      Seriously. This argument that Android users are more technically savvy than iOS user is unfounded garbage. Limited ecosystem. I would say it has a better ecosystem than Android tablets. Limited application selection ?? Again you have no idea what you are talking about. But if your choice of operating systems makes you feel superior to others then do what makes you happy. Life is too short otherwise.

      • wright_is

        I do agree, many IT professionals do select Android, just as others select iOS. But a vast majority of users of both platforms have no idea about technology, let alone how to make the most out of their platform.


        Many can’t even load an app without help.


        We forget that we, as fans of technology, are in a very small minority of users.

      • SvenJ

        Considering how many more Android users there are in the world than iOS/iPadOS, if Android users are more technically savvy, it would stand to reason there are way more technically savvy folks out there than I have come across. You can take iOS and Android out the box and just use it as is. The majority of regular folks do just that.

    • rob_segal

      The iPad has by far the best tablet app selection on the market. The entry-level iPad starts at $329 and is often on sale. That's very reasonably priced, considering that the ecosystem and experience it offers is the best. There's no competition.

    • Saarek

      I concur with your comments about iOS being locked down.


      But the part about reasonably priced hardware, I mean come on, have you not looked at the entry level iPad?


      There’s not an android tablet out there that gets close to the value proposition of the base iPad and there’s not an android tablet out there that can match the specs of something like the iPad Pro.


      Sure, you can buy cheap rubbish from Amazon et al, but they’re just bin fodder and everyone knows it.

      • RobertJasiek

        About the price of the entry iPad, yours is a first world view. There are many people in the third world who cannot afford more than a rubbish Android tablet or smartphone as tablet replacement. Also some children / students might not be able to afford the basic iPad and avoid a used tablet with dubios battery life.

        • Stabitha.Christie

          By logical extension, your issues with the iPad are first world problems.

          • RobertJasiek

            Choosing Android can be a 3rd world problem. As to whether my problems with iPad and iPadOS are 1st, 3rd (I simplify) or whole world problems:

            • 1st, local file transfer / backup difficulties and bugs. 3rd world might not afford an extra PC to which files might be transferred.
            • 1st, unsupported file formats. 3rd world might not pursue non-mainstream activities.
            • 1st, non-existing advanced / specialised softwares. As before.
            • Whole world, privacy versus iCloud terms. Human rights are universal, although some 1st world countries have far more explicit rights than some 3rd world countries.
            • Whole world, Safari video bugs unfixed for several years before replaced by new bugs.
            • Whole world. Excessive app fees.
            • Whole world. Excessive price increments.
            • Whole world. Accumulating too much capital while too many people remain too poor.


            Now, although currently we might identify some kinds of problems as 1st world, if you suggest that Apple should prevent the 3rd world from human rights and pursuing more than mainstream activities (including professions), I say "no, this must stop immediately".

            • Stabitha.Christie

              It's really simple. If owning an iPad is a "first world" thing then the problem that come with an iPad are be default "first world" problems. Ergo, your numerous rambling posts about iPads are the ramblings of a privileged persons. Keep in mind, this is your view not mine. Feel free to have he argument with yourself.

        • Dan

          3rd world countries don't drive the market or set the direction, they get leftovers.

  35. Pierre Masse

    I use a Samsung tablet. It's fine. I had an iPad before, when I used an iPhone. It was fine too. Why should they be just one option? There should be three, but Microsoft chickened out. I hope some Linux distributor find a way to synchronize Linux, a Linux phone OS and a Linux tablet OS some day. In the meantime, I use Microsoft's synchronized products. They're fine.