Android tablets and Chromebooks are on another crash course

While it’s up to the market to prove (or disprove) Google’s belief that Android tablets are the “future of computing,” another major obstacle lies within the company. Chromebooks are very competitive for that mantle as Android and ChromeOS converge once again in features and use cases.

Google’s recent and ongoing push to tablets stems from a belief that form factors can now accommodate more than content consumption. The company said sales of large-screen tablets began growing in late 2019 and continued as a result of COVID-19. It was proposed.

Google is particularly keen on stylus-first applications and large (touch) screens that are “not physically attached to the keyboard”, creating unexpected use cases. We want to position Android where it can best contribute to that growth, especially in productivity and creativity.

To that end, Google released Android 12L as a release dedicated to improving the big screen experience, and continued its push with Android 13. Improve multitasking with easy split screen and taskbar. Meanwhile, there is strong pressure to encourage developers to optimize their apps for tablets and foldable devices, and his first-party Google client is doing the same.

This push seems to come at the expense of Google’s Chromebook tablet, which in 2020 was seriously invested in and appeared to be a success. After a false start with the Pixel Slate, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet and other branded devices seemed to succeed. By being very affordable. Another big factor was the meaningful updates to ChromeOS, including ChromeOS split screen, modernized multitasking, and the introduction of larger touch elements. All this was to provide a better touch (no keyboard) experience.

But that momentum has passed, and the last notable ChromeOS tablet was announced in February. The operating system still offers a great tablet experience, but it’s starting to lag and is getting close to the bare minimum needed to remain competitive. Compared to Android, it lacks the refined sleekness that is only set to improve on Pixel Tablets, and future Android devices are in favor of Google’s current attention.

A line between Android and ChromeOS might make sense, assuming Android tablet push stops on touchscreen-only devices that don’t have a fixed keyboard. However, Android 13 QPR2, which will presumably launch on Pixel Tablets, will feature updated work in desktop mode. was the area of ​​the cursor rather than direct finger manipulation.

On the other hand, we can’t forget that the obvious prerequisite for any modern ‘pro’ tablet is a keyboard accessory that offers a better typing experience and replicates the form factor of a laptop. In fact, Google is well aware that “keyboard attach rates” are on the rise.

With that in mind, the difference between an Android tablet with a detachable keyboard and a Chromebook is very blurry.

The last time this happened was in Andromeda. In 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported (and several other publications confirmed) that ChromeOS would be integrated into Android, extending Android to laptop and desktop form factors. Scheduled to preview at I/O 2016, his Pixel laptop was rumored to launch in 2017 and run Android.

One reason, according to reports at the time, was a desire to “reduce the number of independent platforms we had to maintain.” This integration is especially timely as Google continues to reduce costs and consolidate.

Whether Google wants two different operating systems with fundamentally different cores is still a worthwhile question. Of course, this never happened. As mentioned earlier, ChromeOS briefly appeared to infiltrate Android tablets.

The pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. With his recent ChromeOS push aimed at gaming Chromebooks and tablets being rather lost, CES 2023 serves as an opportunity to see which OS wins on the new tablets.

Specializing Chromebooks might be a good differentiator, but the affordable midrange is what really sells and is something Google wants to control very much.

Trying to grab a bigger space than smartphones with two different approaches is something Apple is also finding itself in, and it seems like Google’s strength, but that’s changed these days. While it has the advantage of being a desktop-class browser, Android tablets are now being invested in by institutional investors. Having two ill-defined approaches might be fine for now, but it wouldn’t be too surprising in the future if Google turns its attention to the galaxy again.

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