Google has been steadily preparing for its upcoming Pixel Tablet launch, and now we’re able to show you a fun entertaining video of what it would be like to use the tablet.
Next year’s Pixel tablet is Google’s first Android tablet since the Pixel C in 2015, which predated the entire Pixel line of phones. With Android having changed so much since then, particularly with the large-screen advancements in Android 12L and 13, Google has had to adapt quite a few areas of software to be tablet-ready.
Our team has been watching the backlog of these changes over the past year, faithfully covering changes in Android Beta builds and seeing new tablet-ready builds for Google apps. However, it’s also important to step back and look at the bigger picture that the company’s many teams paint.
The latest Android Beta build – Android 13 QPR2 – is currently expected to hit the stable in March. Given that the next plausible launch event for the Pixel Tablet will be Google I/O (usually held in May), the tablet will likely also launch with Android 13 QPR2 out of the box. This means that the Pixel software we can preview today may be relatively close to what the ultimate tablet experience should be.
For a closer look at the Pixel Tablet experience, we’ve taken a few more Pioneer Pixel phone settings tweaks, and our APK Insight team force-enabled some additional features in apps that might not otherwise be visible today. More specifically, we’ve done more than just increase the on-screen DPI to make this re-enactment possible.
Since many of the things we’ve enabled are still in the works, we can’t guarantee that everything shown in this video will be ready in time for the Pixel Tablet launch or look exactly the same. In short, take this with a grain of salt. Without further ado, with the video!
The first thing to note is the lock screen, which features a clock that slides to the left to reveal a list of notifications on the right. Like a lot of Pixel phones, the Pixel tablet’s lock screen features the ever-present At A Glance widget in the top left, as well as a Google Home shortcut in the bottom left. In the top-right corner, there’s a new user switch button that makes it easy for the family to share the Pixel Tablet.
The actual Pixel Tablet will likely have some additional features on the lock screen that we can’t preview today. For example, Google has confirmed that you’ll be able to send videos and music to the Pixel Tablet just as you can to the Nest Hub or Google TV.
Once unlocked, you’ll find a new tablet-ready home screen layout with a wide 6×5 grid for apps and widgets. At A Glance is still permanently pinned to the front page, but it doesn’t use the entire top row like we see on smartphones, only the left half. Below the grid is a permanent row with the Pixel Launcher search bar and six dots for installed apps.
Google Assistant is always ready on Pixel devices, whether by tapping the microphone icon or saying “Hey Google.” Calling Assistant on a Pixel Tablet brings up the same user interface seen on phones today, but now the response appears in a sheet on the right side of the screen.
As always, swiping up on the launcher brings up the full app drawer, which slides out like a leaf in true Material Design style. Pixel Launcher also uses this same design for home screen widget navigation.
Scrolling down, you’ll find a revamped notification shade and quick settings area. Similar to the lock screen, notifications are on the right side, while a 3×3 grid of quick settings tiles is on the left.
Scrolling past the leftmost home screen page, Google Discover has been given an overhaul for the tablet. In the current situation, Android devices with a large screen already get multiple columns in Google Discover, even tablets get a third column. For the Pixel Tablet, Google reinforced that with a welcome message like, “Good afternoon, Kyle.”
As a Pixel Tablet exclusive, Google Discover is now also separated into two distinct parts. From Your Apps displays movie and TV recommendations from Google TV and other apps, playing a similar role to Android’s “Entertainment Space.” Meanwhile, “From Around the Web” is Google Discover’s usual collection of news articles and YouTube videos.
Back on the home screen, you can press and hold on an app to see two new ways to open it: “slide left” and “split right.” Choosing one will put the app’s icon on the appropriate edge of the screen, leaving plenty of screen space for you to choose a second app. Once you open that second app, the two will appear in a vertically split screen.
Notably, the inner corners of each app are given a steep, material-like curve, likely intended to match the Pixel Tablet’s cornering curve. A thin strip appears between the two applications, allowing you to allocate more space to one or the other. In the Recent Apps view, these two apps are treated as a single activity that can be brought back or closed.
While in an app (or multiple), swiping up reveals a new taskbar design introduced in Android 12L. As always, you will find your current installed apps and a shortcut to open the app drawer. Cleverly, the drawer can even be opened during Your current app, without going back to the home screen. With the same “Split right” option from before, you can add another app to the existing one.
Swiping up a bit brings up the Recent Apps view, which features an enlarged view of your current task and two rows of past activities that you can quickly return to. Besides the usual options for “screenshot” and “select,” there’s a more prominent button for “splitting” the app and joining it with another.
Moving on to individual apps, Google has made quite a few preparations over the years, both for its own Pixel tablet and for the broader market of large-screen Android devices. The common denominator you’ll likely notice is the frequent use of a two-pane design, placing separate content on the left and right sides of the screen, which makes it ideal for tablets and foldable devices alike.
For starters, Google Messages on tablets is capable of matching the web app’s ability to transcribe your phone’s entire message history, receive notifications, and respond to conversations. Just like the web app, there’s a list of conversations on the left and a view of a single conversation on the right. This is already possible today on all Android tablets, but it certainly helps make the Pixel experience cohesive.
Meanwhile, Google Contacts is preparing an overhaul of its design ahead of the Pixel Tablet’s launch, with similarly separate columns for your contact list and specific person information. Keep Notes takes a similar approach on tablets and foldable devices, making it easy to cross-reference notes.
Other apps, like Chrome, choose to make the most of the Pixel Tablet’s extra screen. There, you’ll find the full desktop-like experience, including the familiar tab bar at the top. You can even open a “new window” from Chrome as you would on the desktop. What’s less exciting is that Google Docs uses the extra width to give the text editor more options.
Putting it all together, it’s clearer than ever that Google has put a lot of effort into getting ready for the Pixel Tablet. Fortunately, much of this effort will also benefit other Android tablet makers like Samsung and Lenovo, between improvements in Android itself and a redesign of Google’s app library.
With any luck, the Pixel Tablet will help push Android tablets forward in the same way Google did before with Pixel phones. And if nothing else, the Pixel Tablet should be an excellent companion to Google phones, with useful split-screen tools to get work done and delightful new ways to have fun.
What do you think of this early restoration of the Pixel Tablet experience? What would you like to see Google improve before the tablet launch next year? Let us know in the comments.
Dylan Russell Contribute to this article.
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