We’re still patiently waiting for the Pixel Tablet, the device Google announced in May 2022 and which is scheduled to launch this year – but a new pair of leaks give us a better idea of what to expect when the device finally does appear.
First of all, Twitter tipster SnoopyTech (opens in new tab) has posted images of what is supposedly the Google Pixel Tablet Stand, a docking station for the new tablet that will essentially turn it into a Google Nest Hub Max when you’re not carrying it around.
Google has previously mentioned something called a Charging Speaker Dock to do this job, but there has been talk that two docks are in development – one with a speaker and one without. It’s not clear which one this is.
Google Pixel Tablet Stand pic.twitter.com/YFH6tf9ooBMarch 23, 2023
Hello to Hub Mode
Then we also have some updates from 9to5Google (opens in new tab): the team there has been digging into the code into the Google Home app, and some snippets mentioning the Pixel Tablet are already appearing ahead of the launch of the tablet.
Apparently the Pixel tablet will go into what’s called a “Hub Mode” when it’s placed on a dock. That mode is going to enable it to receive content beamed over the Google Cast standard, just like a Chromecast dongle does.
Again, there’s a mention of two different docks here. It seems as though these docks will work a lot like smart speakers such as the Google Nest Mini, though there may be some limitations in terms of what you can do with them.
Analysis: following Amazon’s lead
If the idea of a tablet that you can turn into a smart display sounds familiar, it’s because Amazon has already done it – note that tablets such as the Amazon Fire HD 10 can work in something called Show Mode, essentially turning them into an Echo Show.
In other words, you can call out Alexa commands and have the responses appear on the tablet, as would happen on something like the Echo Show 10. There are also official charging docks for the Fire HD tablets that further blur the lines between the products.
It’s a move that makes a lot of sense, because you’re not always going to be carrying your tablet around. Put it on its dock, and not only can it be charging, it can also listen out for and respond to your voice commands – just like one of the best smart displays.
We can also expect something similar from Apple in the not-too-distant future. The HomePod 2 has now been launched, and the rumor is that the next smart speaker from Apple is going to come with an iPad-like display attached.