Google used its annual Google I/O developer conference Wednesday to tease a product that’s not scheduled to arrive for another year: a Pixel-branded Android tablet to complete Google's first-party hardware ecosystem and better compete with the iPad.
Aside from a teaser photo, Google didn’t share a whole lot of details about the new device. Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh said during a press briefing earlier this week that the device will be powered by Google’s Tensor chip, which is also at the core of the company’s Pixel phones.
Osterloh also described the tablet as a “premium-style” product, suggesting that it may be priced closer to an iPad than many of the existing budget Android tablets; he didn’t reveal a specific screen size, but said it would be “on the larger side.”
Google released its last first-party Android tablet, the Nexus 7, in 2013. Why return to Android tablets now? Osterloh said that there was clearly demand for the product category and that the Android team had been making a lot of progress in adapting the system to a tablet form factor.
Osterloh also positioned the device as part of the company’s strategy to provide a suite of first-party devices. “We think it's important for our users’ ecosystem,” he said. “We've heard pretty clearly from them that they would like a larger-format Pixel device.”
As part of that ecosystem play, Google on Wednesday also announced a Pixel Watch, a pro version of its earbuds and a new Pixel 6a phone. The phone and the Pixel Buds will be available in July for $449 and $199 respectively, while the Pixel Watch will be released later this fall.
Osterloh became Google’s top hardware exec in 2016 after previously leading Motorola’s mobile phone division. The company’s hardware efforts have since focused on providing an Android-based alternative to Apple’s device ecosystem, with mixed success: The company sold only 7.2 million phones in 2019, according to IDC.
Google hasn’t shared sales numbers of its own, but Osterloh said this week that it sold more Pixel 6 devices in the six months following its launch than Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 combined during their respective launch periods.