The Nexus 7 was Google’s solely nice pill, and it has by no means tried to switch it

Someone poking at a 2013 Nexus 7, Google's last (and possibly only) great tablet.
Enlarge / Somebody poking at a 2013 Nexus 7, Google’s final (and presumably solely) nice pill.


Nicely, right here we’re once more—Google is making an attempt to make an Android pill occur.

The corporate has launched a brand-new Pixel Pill to indicate off a number of the tablet-centric optimizations that it has added to latest variations of Android whereas additionally maybe-possibly coaxing app builders within the route of really utilizing these tablet-centric options within the first place. If it feels such as you’ve been right here earlier than, it is as a result of we have been right here a bunch of instances for the reason that iPad got here out in 2010.

Perhaps the brand new Pixel Pill is the one which’s going to place Google’s first-party pill efforts on the map. I do not know! I can solely have a look at high-profile failures just like the Pixel C and Pixel Slate and guess. However the Pixel Pill’s launch did get me pondering of the one Google pill I really retain some affection for and the final nice pill that the corporate helped to make: the second-generation Nexus 7 from 2013.

Again when Android tablets appeared like they may occur

A decade in the past, Google’s pill efforts had been at their excessive level. The Motorola Xoom got here out in 2011, and the primary Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10 adopted in 2012, and so they had been launched alongside new Android variations that had been designed with bigger screens in thoughts. Although all three tablets had been flawed in their very own methods, the fast iteration signaled a spotlight and dedication that petered out with latter-day, lackadaisical efforts just like the Nexus 9 and Pixel C. Most of Google’s apps, not less than, had been being designed with tablets in thoughts, and the turn-of-the-decade Nexus telephones and tablets had been low-cost sufficient and ok to pique the curiosity of would-be pill app builders who did not wish to miss out on (what appeared prefer it could possibly be, on the time) an thrilling development market.

Apple’s iPad lineup additionally had holes in it again then. The primary iPad mini wasn’t launched till very late in 2012, and it was basically an 18-month-old iPad 2 in a smaller bundle (it was additionally comparatively costly at $329 in comparison with the unique Nexus 7’s $200). There have been plenty of limitations on the sorts of apps that would run in iOS and what these apps may do. Home windows 8 and RT had been flailing as pill working techniques and tended to run totally on costlier {hardware}. Amazon’s Kindle Fireplace tablets had been cheap however used restricted app shops and low-rent {hardware} (all three issues are nonetheless true of Amazon’s tablets). It felt like there was plenty of room for one thing cheap however able to succeeding.

That is what the 2013 Nexus 7 was launched into. Like the primary Nexus 7, the 2013 mannequin was a collaboration between Google and Asus, and it got here with dramatically improved efficiency, a brighter and sharper and extra colourful display, and a streamlined design. Full entry to the Google Play Retailer made it remarkably versatile and succesful, and the display was massive sufficient to be a significant improve over up to date 4- to 5-inch telephone screens however not so massive that phone-first Android apps regarded fully ridiculous. And you bought all of that for less than $30 greater than the first-generation Nexus 7.

The 2013 Nexus 7 (left) improved on the intriguing-but-flawed original (right) in every conceivable way.

The 2013 Nexus 7 (left) improved on the intriguing-but-flawed unique (proper) in each conceivable method.

Andrew Cunningham

The Nexus 7 wasn’t the quickest Android {hardware}, nevertheless it did use comparatively latest flagship silicon from Qualcomm. The display was nice. The design and development had been each completely effective for the worth. It was a great e-reader, it was nice for cellular video games, and it was an excellent and light-weight video-streaming display. And as a Nexus gadget, it acquired immediate Android updates for a couple of years (plus many extra years of unofficial help for individuals who cared to determine LineageOS or another third-party software program picture).

The Nexus 7 was as shut as Google (or, arguably, anybody) ever obtained to the platonic splendid of a small pill. It was cheap however not low-cost; it wasn’t underpowered; you did not have to place up with a mediocre low-resolution display. It is a stability Google not often manages to get precisely proper.

Google by no means appeared excited about re-creating this mix of virtues in its subsequent Android tablets. The Nexus 9 was a lot bigger and costlier and had all types of bizarre issues; the Pixel C was additionally massive and costly, and it felt off as a result of it won’t have been designed as an Android pill within the first place. The Pixel Slate was a ChromeOS pill making an attempt to be a Microsoft Floor clone. And on the danger of pre-judging {hardware} I have never seen or used, the tasteless $500 Pixel Pill has far more in frequent with Google’s pill failures than its pill successes.

A Nexus 7 alternative arguably is not needed immediately. Most telephone screens are actually properly over six inches, making small tablets really feel much less needed than ever (although with extra fashionable screens and bezels you possibly can simply take the precise design of the Nexus 7 and stretch the display to someplace within the low-to-mid 8-inch vary). Samsung makes a number of A-series funds tablets that, whereas not unimaginable, not less than have respectable software program replace insurance policies and usable efficiency for those who’re searching for a fundamental content-consumption pill that is not making an attempt to LARP as some sort of laptop computer.

However I am not simply annoyed by the dearth of a transparent Nexus 7 successor. I am annoyed by Google’s stop-and-start method to tablets (and a variety of its different software program and providers, truthfully). I miss that temporary period in Google’s historical past after they’d promote you cheap, promptly up to date Android {hardware} that did not make you’re feeling such as you had been settling for one thing. I miss the times when it felt like Google was making an attempt to supply one thing distinctive somewhat than Google-branded variations of issues I may simply as simply get from Samsung or Apple.

That second-gen Nexus 7 was the suitable product on the proper worth on the proper time. Apologies to the Pixel Pill, however none of Google’s pill efforts since then have come anyplace shut.

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