I’m not surprised; I’m just disappointed.
As expected, Google launched the Pixel Tablet at the Google I/O developer conference yesterday. It’s an 11-inch Android tablet with a “speaker docking station,” and when it’s in the dock it looks and works like the Nest Hub Max, on top of a Google smart display. Google kept saying the Pixel Tablet was “like” a smart display, while insisting it wasn’t.
The thing is, when the tablet is held in Hub mode, it definitely looks like a smart display. The tablet acts as a digital photo frame. You can talk to the Google Assistant. You can use it as a smart home controller. You can Chromecast audio and video to it. These are all things the Nest Hub does. The dock, which comes with the tablet, states that the tablet is meant to live outdoors, not put in a drawer or anywhere people keep tablets when they’re not using them.
Now, there are plenty of reasons why an Android tablet is a better smart home remote than discarded Nest Hubs. I mean, the words “careless” and “careless” are big words. The Pixel Tablet is a simple work in progress, with a new interface, more powerful hardware, and a much larger app ecosystem. It has the potential to be a great smart display and smart home console — but there’s one major omission in realizing that potential.
I can’t figure out why the dock isn’t a Nest speaker.
On launch – words I’ll come back to – it’s just dock. The Pixel Tablet ships, and has speakers that the tablet can use when docked. And it enables the Hub mode I was talking about. When you take the tablet out of the dock, it’s a tablet. But the sidewalk is just a mess. You can’t send audio to it, you can’t ask it questions, and you can’t even use it to charge your other devices. It just takes up space.
Before the Google I/O conference, I had this whole theory in my head He was Become a Nest speaker. The alternative didn’t make sense. It’s at least as big as a Nest speaker. It has speakers in it. It’s always plugged into a power source, and it’s designed to be out in the open. It costs $129.99 by itself, which is more than the Nest Audio or Nest Hub.
If it’s a Nest speaker, it’ll still come in handy when someone is walking with the tablet. If it had a Matter controller and a Thread boundary router, as many Nest Hubs do, it could work in conjunction with the Pixel Tablet to be a one-stop smart home solution, even when the tablet is somewhere else. Instead, you still need a separate device (or two) to control your smart home, in addition to your $500 tablet and its bulky docking station. I am He’s not the only one who noticed the wasted potential here.
It is very logical to use an Android tablet as a family smart home console, but it is very illogical that the smart home console is not available because someone removed the screen and plays Maine Craft In the next room. The Nest speaker in the dock will fix the “where did the tablet go” issue, and the Pixel Tablet fixes the biggest problem with the Nest Hub smart displays, which is that they’re essentially smart speakers with an awkward touchscreen interface grafted in, running on two devices. Struggling to keep up.
I think the dock was supposed to do more. And either there’s been a change of direction or some hardware is there but idle because Google didn’t get it done in time for I/O. Consider the following.
In early 2022 — before the Pixel Tablet was announced at I/O last year — there it was Rumor has it that Google was working on a Nest Hub with a detachable screen. Late last year, Google It appears to be ramping up development on Fuchsia OS Before launching a new Nest speaker in 2023. It has spent the past two years porting existing speakers from the Nest Hub to Fuchsia. The second generation Nest Hub got the OS last week. All without a clear result; They all still run the same ramshackle front end as before, and no new Nest products have been announced. That’s a lot of effort to go for nothing.
For a while, I was partially convinced that not only was the dock a Nest speaker, but also that the Pixel Tablet’s mainboard interface was actually running on the dock itself and only added on Android when the tablet is docked. And that’s because this Home Panel interface doesn’t look like the Nest Hub interface, Google was about to update the Nest Hub interfaces when the Pixel Tablet launched. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe something is true just because you want it to be true or because you’re sick of the Nest Hub Max and don’t want to spend $500.
If that sounds like I’m grasping at straws, first of all: maybe! The charging base doesn’t have a microphone or privacy switch, so it’s almost certainly not a Nest speaker. But secondly, check out what Anish Kattukaran, Product Manager on Google Home, told my colleague Jennifer Pattison Toohey: “At launch, the new Pixel tablet won’t be a Matter controller or a Thread boundary router.”
“at launch” is an odd way of putting it if what you mean is “never”. So there’s little hope that at least the smart home’s control capabilities might still be on the dock.
to update: Google spokeswoman Mia Nicholson said the edge via email Neither tablet nor dock has a Thread radio. oh well.
It just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe something is true just because you want it to be true
Of course, Google did Part of the Fuchsia development team laid off in January – shout out to 9to5Google By the way, to stay on top of Fuchsia news—and then He re-formed the assistant squad in March, so plans may have changed. Or maybe they tried a Nest speaker and decided it was too confusing, or they couldn’t get the operating systems to work well. Or they could not get organized to play well. They might still be working on it! Maybe they’ll have a different dock that later comes with a Nest speaker.
Or maybe the Nest Hub is an evolutionary dead end, and the speaker base is just a big, expensive charging stand for your Android tablet. This Android tablet will be a fine smart home console when docked, thanks mostly to the new Google Home app and the fact that it’s designed to sit out in the open. But a smart home needs a great remote. The Pixel Tablet has all the right components. It’s too bad a sidewalk is just a sidewalk.
Photo by Dan Seifert/The Verge
Updated May 11, 2023 at 5:48 PM EST: Added new information from Google confirming that the Pixel Tablet does not have a Thread radio or speaker charge as well as the price of the dock when sold separately.
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