Google shows off the Pixel Tablet dock—it doubles as a smart display

Today’s Google show saw the launch of the Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch, but Google really seems to wish its Pixel Tablet was also ready to go. The company spent a while talking about its upcoming tablet, which won’t ship until 2023. The big news is the unveiling of the dock that this thing will sit on, turning it into a sort of Google Smart Display.

The Pixel Tablet has pogo pins on the back, and the other half of that connection is a “charging speaker dock.” Click the tablet into a magnetic dock, align everything with the pogo pins, and now you’ve got a smart display with a beefier speaker. Besides the bigger scale, it looks almost indistinguishable from a Nest Hub once it is all hooked up, providing a bit of hardware lineup cohesiveness.

It doesn’t seem like much is happening on the software side of things, though. The rumor mill has been rightfully pitching this device as a “smart display,” and we know Android 13 includes a “hub mode” that seems custom-designed for the Pixel Tablet to kick it over into an interface you can see from across the room . Everything Google showed today while the tablet was in docked mode looked like the normal Android phone/tablet interface.

While the hardware looks exactly like a Nest Hub smart display, the software doesn’t look anything like what you see on a Nest Hub. That’s surprising given that the Nest Hub interface—a Flutter app—can run just fine on Android with no major changes. In fact, the early Google smart displays ran Android. I’m not saying the Nest Hub interface is the way to go, but I expected more of a “10-foot” interface out of the docked mode—something that’s visible from across the room. The one software addition made for smart displays is the idle “screensaver” mode, which can show a Google Photos slideshow or a clock.

Google also said the tablet body is aluminum but with a “nano ceramic coating inspired by the fine texture of porcelain.” Supposedly, this will give the tablet a “soft, matte, and textured feel.” Naturally, it’s coming with the same Tensor G2 SoC as the Pixel 7.

Google would only say the tablet is coming in 2023.

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