Google’s new Pixel Pill is a $500 slate for the house

Google is formally again within the pill enterprise. After teasing it a yr in the past, the corporate has now introduced the Pixel Pill, a $499 slab that’s available for preorder beginning as we speak, Could tenth, and can start transport on June twentieth.

Google’s historical past with tablets has been, nicely, fraught. The one actual success it’s had was with the Nexus 7, an affordable, small pill that was beloved when it got here out again in 2012. The following years noticed the corporate attempt a number of concepts on transportable touchscreen computer systems, launching new tablets with both Android or ChromeOS after which abandoning them shortly after. None ever recaptured the success of the Nexus 7. It even bought to the purpose the place Google’s head of {hardware} mentioned it wouldn’t hassle making new tablets anymore in 2019.

Clearly, that has modified as a result of right here we’re in 2023, and Google is as soon as once more promoting a tablet-ass pill. The Pixel Pill is designed from the bottom as much as be good at what folks sometimes use tablets for: watching video or taking part in video games within the consolation of their very own dwelling. It isn’t, nevertheless, making any statements about the way forward for computing.

The Pixel Pill has an 11-inch display screen with even bezels throughout. When docked, it will probably show a slideshow of images from a Google Pictures album.

The seems to be of the Pixel Pill are comparatively generic. It has an 11-inch, 16:10, 2560 x 1600 pixel LCD show, even bezels throughout, and a matte again. It is available in three colours: white, darkish inexperienced, and lightweight pink, with the darkish inexperienced mannequin that includes a black bezel. Although it seems to be like plastic from a distance, the Pixel Pill has an aluminum body with a nanotexture coating, not in contrast to what Google did with the Pixel 5 smartphone.

Bundled within the field with the Pixel Pill is a magnetic speaker dock. This serves a number of functions and is supposed to stop the dreaded “useless pill in a drawer” syndrome: it’s a spot to retailer the Pixel Pill when it’s not in use; it prices the battery; and it has a louder, fuller speaker higher suited to communal listening than the audio system which might be constructed into the pill. In case you’re taking part in music or watching a video on the pill while you put it on the dock, it would seamlessly switch the audio to the dock’s speaker. Pull the pill off the dock whereas one thing is taking part in, and it’ll immediately change to the pill’s audio system.

When mounted on the speaker dock, the Pixel Pill seems to be an terrible lot just like the Nest Hub Max, a $250 sensible show that Google launched again in 2019. However make no mistake, the Pixel Pill is an Android pill and never a sensible show — it runs utterly completely different software program and has completely different capabilities in comparison with the Nest Hub.

That mentioned, when the pill is docked on the speaker, it will probably present a slideshow of pictures out of your Google Pictures albums identical to the Nest Hub. It additionally has a fast entry button to the Google House app so you’ll be able to management sensible dwelling gadgets, and it will probably settle for voice instructions from a distance for hands-free Google Assistant queries. The lock display screen received’t present any private data like notifications — for that, you’ll should unlock the pill to entry the accounts which might be arrange on it.

The Pixel Pill seems to be like plastic from afar, but it surely’s really aluminum with a nanoceramic coating.

A fingerprint sensor is constructed into the sleep / wake button.

The Pixel Pill has the identical Tensor G2 processor discovered within the new Pixel Fold, Pixel 7A, and the Pixel 7 and seven Professional launched final yr. It’s paired with 8GB of RAM and both 128 or 256GB of storage. Google says the battery offers as much as 12 hours of video streaming between prices, and there’s a USB-C port for wired charging for those who don’t have the dock with you. However in additional proof that Google expects most individuals to by no means take the pill outdoors of the house, it’s solely out there in Wi-Fi-only configurations; there aren’t any 5G or LTE choices right here.

Adorning the pill are 4 audio system, three microphones for video calls, and two cameras. On the again, an eight-megapixel rear digicam is located within the upper-right nook of the pill, and on the entrance, one other eight-megapixel digicam is centered within the prime bezel while you maintain the pill in panorama orientation, the place it must be. A fingerprint scanner is constructed into the facility button to help login and biometric authentication.

Google has made a snap-on case for the Pixel Pill that has a built-in kickstand and nonetheless helps mounting on the speaker dock. However notably lacking from the Google-made equipment checklist is a keyboard or stylus — this isn’t the pill you purchase to interchange a laptop computer. (You possibly can, in fact, pair a Bluetooth keyboard to it and the pill does help USI 2.0 styluses, however Google isn’t producing both of these equipment.)

The Pixel Pill runs Android 13 at launch and will likely be up to date to Android 14 later this yr. (The corporate guarantees 5 years of safety and three years of OS updates.) The software program is acquainted to anybody that owns a Pixel cellphone, and Google claims that greater than 50 of its personal apps have been up to date to help the Pixel Pill’s bigger show.

You possibly can split-screen two apps, however the Pixel Pill’s productiveness ambitions finish there.

A dock for current and favourite apps is offered with a swipe up from the underside of the display screen.

However when you can cut up the display screen between two apps on the identical time, the Pixel Pill’s software program doesn’t have a lot in the best way of productiveness options. Samsung, Apple, and even OnePlus are doing far more to make their tablets extra conducive to getting work performed on them than Google appears to be occupied with proper now. It is going to show all your favourite streaming apps in full display screen, nevertheless.

And that actually is the entire story with the Pixel Pill: it’s a pill designed for what folks principally use tablets for proper now. The long-standing criticism in opposition to any form of Android pill has been a scarcity of correctly optimized apps, and regardless of Google’s efforts by itself first-party apps, the Pixel Pill doubtless received’t clear up that downside. However for those who simply wish to watch the newest episode of Succession whereas sitting in your sofa, you doubtless don’t care that the Slack app seems to be foolish on the Pixel Pill’s display screen.

Google spent years making an attempt to divine the way forward for computing in its pill efforts — it constructed inventive keyboard instances and tried a number of working programs to attempt to make one thing that’s as versatile as a smartphone however as creatively highly effective as a laptop computer. It’s now making an attempt a less complicated strategy with the Pixel Pill, and I feel it’s one lots of people is perhaps occupied with.

Correction, 5:00pm ET, Could tenth, 2023: An earlier model of this text mentioned the Pixel Pill would get 5 years of each OS and safety updates. Google is committing to 5 years of safety updates however solely three years of OS updates. We remorse the error.