Google’s tablet may have disappeared from its Android site, but the company insists this is a mistake. Speculation about the future of Android on large-screen devices has been fueled by a recent update to the Chrome browser to support touch-only tablets without keyboards.
Since the release of Chromebook tablet, it is a cloud-centric operating system improvement that can handle devices that are individually controlled only by tapping a screen or using a digital stylus. At the time, the move was seen as an attempt to put Apple’s iPad in classrooms and educate customers about Chromebook alternatives. But it also leaves some wondering if this is the future of Google tablets, given Chrome OS’s support for Android APPs.
An update to the official Android website late last week seemed to double that skepticism. “Tablet” used to be the category title on the page, but it’s suddenly gone. Instead, there are only “phone“, “wearable“, “TV”, “car” and “enterprise” links.
Nor is it just a UI layout change. Go to the URL caused by the previous “tablet” link, which redirects visitors looking for Android tablets to the home page of the Android site.
Not surprisingly, there was widespread suspicion that Android tablets were struggling so hard that Google shelved them altogether. Of course, at least from Google’s point of view, this category isn’t doing much. In December, its high-end Android tablet Pixel C, which supports a clever electromagnetic keyboard cover, was withdrawn from the Google store without any replacement.
But the death knell seems premature. According to Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior vice President of Android, Chrome, Chrome OS, and Google Play platforms and ecosystems, the disappearance was “a mistake” and not intentional.