Seven years after the Nexus 7, what happened to Android tablets?

Google Nexus 7 Leaning on Box

Tablets ^( are so bizarre. Are they simply large telephones? Are they computer ^( replacements? Something utterly other? I don’t assume producers even know the solution to this query.

Today marks the seven-year anniversary of the Nexus 7 ^( This tool were given Google spotted in the pill trade. It helped spawn quite a lot of units over the following few years, like the Nexus 10 ^(, Pixel C ^(, and Pixel Slate ^( Unfortunately, since then, hobby in Android capsules has dropped to an rock bottom. So low, in reality, Google determined to shutter its pill department altogether ^(, transferring workers to paintings on Chromebooks ^( and different tasks.

This happened for quite a lot of causes, however after sourcing critiques from a huge quantity of Android pill customers, I’ve get a hold of a couple of number one elements.

Google solely in brief noticed capsules as a way for genuine productiveness

Samung Galaxy Tab S4 pen

In February 2018, Google launched Android 3.0 Honeycomb, an OS constructed particularly for capsules. The replace incorporated such things as resizable widgets, toughen for USB units, and a couple of customizable house displays — all excellent issues for productiveness! Quite a few capsules ^( therefore shipped with the function of gaining marketplace proportion over the iPad ^( Google briefly learned folks weren’t purchasing iPads for productiveness — they have been purchasing them for leisure. Bigger displays have been a lot better for looking at YouTube and studying information, and extra handy than lugging round your then-bulky computer. If you sought after to be productive, you simply used a “genuine laptop.”

When Google launched the Nexus 7 seven years in the past, it centered its efforts against simply that: leisure. Services like Google Play Movies and Google Play Books introduced only some months prior, and Google advertised the Nexus 7 as extra of a souped-up e-viewer. Suddenly, customers had a complete global of leisure at their fingertips on a larger display. That drove numerous preliminary Nexus 7 gross sales.

Phones were given large.. and they are nonetheless getting larger

The drawback here’s one thing Google didn’t appear to account for. As telephones were given so much larger, and processors so much quicker, the want for devoted private computer systems began to diminish. The Samsung Galaxy Note ^( created a race for measurement nonetheless going down lately, and the directions in step with clock (IPC) enhancements in smartphone chipsets have advanced even quicker than their conventional laptop opposite numbers. Phones have been getting all the consideration, and capsules have been deemed just a method for amusing and leisure.

Android capsules have been at all times second-class voters

Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite

The Nexus 7 introduced with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, an OS intended to paintings on each cellphones and capsules. While it maintained a few of the productiveness options debuted in Honeycomb, it was once transparent Google was once transferring precedence again to smartphones. Entertainment was once the identify of the sport in cellular, and if folks may just view content material on their telephones whilst on the move, and shift to a larger, extra relaxed viewing revel in at house, why wouldn’t they? People nonetheless had their desktops and laptops for “genuine paintings,” so productiveness was once left through the wayside.

Over the following few years, folks’s wishes impulsively shifted from “extra techniques to eat leisure” to “extra techniques to be productive.” Games like Angry Birds ^( have been being nonetheless being downloaded, however productiveness apps like Slack and Todoist took off on an international scale. People learned cellular units may just permit them to paintings no longer solely in the place of job but in addition all over their trip. For extra fundamental duties like group, making plans, and verbal exchange, smartphones labored nice, however they remained much less environment friendly for extra extensive duties like writing and video enhancing. People sought after extra display real-estate and a tool that would stay up.


The evident position to search for extra display is a computer, however the global was once extra obsessive about portability than ever ahead of. “Thin and light-weight” had taken over just about each and every era phase. The logical subsequent step was once capsules.

While Android capsules have been reasonable and under-powered, iOS builders began taking a look at the iPad as a significant productiveness workhorse. Developers briefly took merit, and customers have been hungry to unload their laptops altogether.

Android pill producers have historically used low-end chips to stay prices low as a result of, frankly, video and written content material intake isn’t precisely energy extensive, however Apple at all times maintained the iPad as a flagship tool. Even when its number one use case was once leisure, the iPad sported the identical flagship processor as its iPhone counterpart. As the iPhone grew quicker and extra tough, so too did the iPad, and builders have been fast to compensate.

There was once no incentive for Android app builders

Samung Galaxy Tab S4

Google left it to builders to optimize their apps for each telephones and capsules, however Android telephones have been catching up with capsules in measurement and capsules didn’t serve any genuine worth previous content material intake. Optimizing your app for but every other tool appeared unnecessary. Letting Android naturally scale your app was once the most simple possibility, however apps have been incessantly left with a disproportionate quantity of white area and unsightly interfaces.

Only a couple of firms — particularly Samsung and Huawei — have in reality put some effort into making Android capsules grow to be genuine competition to the iPad. Samsung used flagship processors and constructed a pen, keyboard, and services and products like Dex intended to make your pill extra like a desktop. However, previous Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Android was once by no means in point of fact optimized to toughen pill interfaces. This is obvious in our Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 evaluation ^( While I commend Samsung’s effort in making an attempt to make Android a usable pill interface, deficient app optimization from builders makes with regards to any Android pill a troublesome promote.

Google is aware of this, which is why it stopped growing first-party capsules with Android. The Pixel Slate runs Chrome OS ^(, which has grow to be the new non-mobile precedence for Google. If the whole thing is a internet app and you’ll be able to additionally run Android apps as an possibility, the app drawback will have to theoretically resolve itself. Unfortunately, Chrome OS was once by no means in point of fact constructed for a marginally interface.

The Pixel Slate appeared like a last-ditch effort for Google. After it most commonly flopped, Google determined to pull out of the pill area altogether for the time being ^(

What did the iPad do proper?

In June, Apple unveiled iPadOS, an replace geared nearly completely against productiveness. People increasingly more need to get extra paintings completed on “cellular” units. Where telephones nonetheless would possibly no longer lower it due to such things as a deficient typing revel in and a small display, the iPad fills the void. It’s is extra moveable than a computer, however extra productivity-oriented than a smartphone, and Apple is leaning into that.

Honeycomb was once forward of its time.

Apple is solely now including options that debuted eight years in the past in Android Honeycomb, however the global is other now. Access to exterior USB media, pinned desktop widgets, and split-screen capability are all productiveness options. People are satisfied to gobble them up in 2019. The iPad isn’t observed as a content-only tool anymore — many of us use them as their number one computer systems. Accomplished photographers Ted Forbes and Brian Matiash informed me they use their iPads each day for high-end video and photograph enhancing, essentially due to app toughen from builders.

Another reason why for the iPad’s good fortune is sustained toughen and growth from Apple itself. Developer APIs like Metal ^( make apps run a lot better on Apple . Developers can briefly make the most of that energy for his or her productiveness apps. While Google has completed a perfect activity of increasing language choices, it’s onerous to deny Apple’s skill to make its profitable for builders.

For shoppers, a large reason why to proceed to purchase the iPad is consistency. An iPad has at all times behaved like an iPad, since the first actual style. If you purchase one, you understand what you’re entering. The Android pill marketplace is at highest a complete crapshoot.

The Google Pixel is one of the solely Google merchandise that has had a constant, iterative design scheme. If Google did the identical with capsules, we would possibly see some growth that would in the end persuade folks to transfer.

What’s subsequent?

For now, first-party Android capsules are as excellent as lifeless. Samsung and Huawei will stay making an attempt to select up the slack, but when Google isn’t invested in construction tool for its personal , it’s onerous to see Android capsules leaving a significant have an effect on on the broader marketplace.

Still, I mourn for the Nexus 7. To me, that first try from Google felt magical, perhaps as a result of the marketplace was once nonetheless contemporary and the chances of capsules had but to be explored. At the finish of the day, Android capsules by no means had a centered imaginative and prescient. For now, Chromebooks glance to be the long run for the corporate. We would possibly no longer see any capsules from Google for a excellent whilst, however one day I am hoping it sees the gentle and makes a real iPad competitor once more. The marketplace wishes it.

from Android Authority
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