Google’s announcement of a Pixel-branded tablet earlier this month was met with mixed reactions. On one hand, it’s hard not to get excited over the fact that Google, after many years of absence in the tablet market, is finally launching a new slate. On the other hand, the device that Google showed off on stage and in marketing materials looked disappointing in terms of design. Nonetheless, the company hinted that this will be a premium device to go along with the Pixel phones, and it might actually have a trick up its sleeve that will make it a bit more interesting — at least for developers who want a reference tablet to develop their Android apps, especially ones that need to work with a stylus.
Google practically presented the Pixel tablet, which not actually be called the “Pixel Tablet,” as more of an extension of your smart home rather than your phone. If that’s truly the case, then that explains the rather nondescript design the company revealed at I/O 2022. This tablet looks more like a Nest Hub Max without the dock and it may be designed to primarily act as a smart display that you rarely carry around, so the appearance might not rank high on Google’s priorities.
Of course, it’s still a tablet regardless of design and the user experience will and should reflect that. In fact, this Pixel tablet might even have a feature that few other Android tablets have, save for a few choice models from Samsung, Lenovo, and Huawei: support for an active stylus, the same kind of plastic stick Steve Jobs hated with a passion and that Apple now ironically embraces wholeheartedly as the Apple Pencil (via CNN).
The Pixel tablet may include a Pixel pen
Hints of this possibility were discovered by tech blog NuGiz in a device list on the Universal Stylus Initiative’s website. The group’s mission is to standardize how active styluses, the ones with pressure sensitivity, should behave, making it easier to have cross-compatibility with other devices. Google has been part of this initiative since 2018, but it’s only now that a device with its name has been certified under the group — in fact, it might be the first Android tablet to even have a USI stamp of approval.
There isn’t much to go on from this sighting other than the device’s codename “Tangor,” which is the name of an orange-like citrus fruit. There isn’t even a product name to go with, but we do know from the listing that the device is made by Google and is a tablet. It also doesn’t hint at which technology will be used to charge the stylus, though the USI standard just recently added NFC as a wireless charging method (via USI).
Admittedly, having stylus support sort of muddles the smart display angle that Google might be aiming for, but that also reinforces the Pixel tablet’s identity as a real Android tablet. It has been a long time since Google launched an Android slate that could be considered a reference device for developers, so equipping this upcoming model with a stylus could help give app developers the tools they need to improve the Android experience on tablets — and we all know that Android needs all the help it can get in that respect.