So it looks like Google may finally be putting the nail in the coffin of Android as a tablet operating system.
Android tablets have always been a bit of a half-assed product from Google but in terms of hardware and software.
As I mentioned a little bit in my Pixel C articles (here and here) Google has been unclear about their direction for Android tablets. Google first released an Android tablet way back in 2011 (the 10-inch Motorola Xoom) with a tablet-focused Android OS update (3.0 Honeycomb), then a 7-inch tablet (Nexus 7) the following year.
The two different form factors were interesting, but getting developers to support the different form factors (phone, small tablet, big tablet) was never very successful. Combine that with the relatively short upgrade cycle that Android tablets (even Nexus tablets) got, the inconsistent quality control and product support that Google seems to be known for (as I’ve explained here), and ChromeOS devices running Android apps, and it doesn’t make Google’s (apparent) decision to kill Android tablets that surprising.
What is interesting, though, is what looks like may take the place of Android tablets.
I know what you’re thinking – shouldn’t these be Chrome OS tablets, since the “book” in Chromebook refers to the fact that these are all laptop or laptop/convertible hybrid devices? Well, not according to Google’s announcement of the Acer Chromebook Tab 10.
The Chromebook Tab 10 is the first device running Chrome OS and Android apps that doesn’t have a hardware keyboard. The Tab 10 only comes with a stylus. It looks like this first keyboardless Chromebook will be available to education buyers first. No idea if it will be widely available in the future, but it certainly looks like an interesting path for ChromeOS. I really enjoy using my Chromebook as a sheet music reader and as a general productivity tool.