Google’s CTO of Android tablets sees tablet sales beyond laptops ‘in the not-too-distant future’

After seemingly forgetting that Android tablets existed for a while, Google is suddenly very invested in the market. Android 12L is in development to support larger screen devices, and one of the platform’s co-founders, Rich Miner, has rejoined the team with the title ‘CTO of Android Tablets’. Now, speaking to developers on an episode of Google’s The Android Show, Miner explained the opportunity the company sees (via 9to5Google

Miner refers to the introduction of Android tablets in 2011, and how apps like media players scaled up to fit them easily without too much investment, but then growth “stalled a bit.” Now he cites data showing that growth started pre-COVID in late 2019 and has continued to rise, with more keyboard peripherals and development in software and hardware by third-party manufacturers to make them better tools to create rather than consume.

The other reason he cites is that tablets “can be very capable, less expensive than a laptop.” That prompted Google to work on Android 12L to optimize the system’s user interface for use on larger devices, as well as the way it formats apps to fit on large screens.

Android 12L displays notifications and settings side by side to take advantage of large screens

Android 12L displays notifications and settings side by side to take advantage of large screens
Image: Google

Miner makes the pitch for developers to look at their apps and consider using the tools Google is developing to improve tablet support or even build apps that approach the market as a tablet-first experience. He points to the 2020 sales data, where “tablet purchases have actually started approaching the number of laptop shipments…there are laptops. I think once you get over that point, you’re not going to come back.”

We’ll need to see more action before we can believe that Google’s renewed tablet push will avoid the trap of stagnation, with more developer support and new apps making us want to pick up tablets again. Get through on that front and we’ll be done when a bigger (and possibly foldable?) Pixel is in the works.

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