Tablets are here for ages, but they had very limited functionality and were very expensive. Some tablets (and old smartphones) even did not support touch and had to be controlled via stylus. And then, first iPad arrived. As Apple re-invented modern smartphone, it also re-invented modern tablet. Big touch screen with multitouch and simple interface were killing features. Also, tablets powered by Android tried not to be behind and Google and other manufacturers announced their own touch tablets based on Android operating systems. In 2018, first tablet with Chrome OS was announced.
In the past, both Android and iOS based tablets were looking just like the big smartphones without significant optimization for big display. As for iPads, it changed with iOS 9, which added native, system-wide support for opening two apps on the same screen at the same time. Another big features came within iOS 11 and upcoming iOS 13 is a really big step forward for iPads.
And Android? Tablets based on Android are not as popular as iPads. Not because of “it’s Apple and it had brainwashed customers”, but Android tablets were hidden behind smartphones and there were no big optimizations even from Google itself. And many modern Android smartphones have really big screen and that’s death for small and medium-sized tablets.
Someone may say that iPads are too expensive with average hardware, but that’s not true. iPads start at 329 USD with A10 Fusion SoC. It’s older SoC, but in time of introduction of iPhone 7 – which had also an A10 Fusion SoC – it was hi-end mobile chip and thanks to great optimizations in iOS 12, this tablet runs fast and without freezes and also it’s getting all new versions of iOS. Can you imagine something like that in 300 – 400 USD Android tablet? And if you want a really powerful Apple tablet, there are iPads Pro. If you want something not too expensive but still very powerful, go for iPad Air 3rd generation or even iPad mini 5th generation if you need small screen, like for GPS navigation in the car or for ultra-mobile computing.
And now, even Google itself announced, that it canceled its own tablet development. The last tablet from Google was Pixel Slate from 2018 powered by Chrome OS. Google was working on two smaller tablets, but ultimately decided to stop focusing on the tablet form factor in favor of laptops.
Google considers a tablet to be a device that detaches completely from a keyboard base or has no physical keyboard at all. Google considers its two-in-one convertible devices like the Pixelbook to be laptops, not tablets.
While Apple works on tighter ecosystem between iPads and Macs, Google is moving away from tablets. Google plans to continue offering support and updates for the Pixel Slate until June 2024, and the Chrome OS team will continue to focus on tablets and laptops in its software development. If you want to buy Chrome OS-based tablet, you have to look for another manufacturers.
Google will be shifting focus to laptops, with a laptop-oriented Pixelbook product planned before the end of the year, and will also continue focusing on its Pixel line of phones.