One of Android's original founders, Rich Miner, works on Android tablets, a fact that was recently revealed in a ComputerWorld report digging into Google's history with tablets. Miner's LinkedIn page appears to confirm this, citing his current title as "CTO Android Tablets", saying he has been in that role since March 2021. Google told The Verge in an email that his specific role is "leading software development for Android for large screens" in the "Platforms and Ecosystems team."
Considering that someone crucial to Android's history is now working on tablets, and some job ads Google has published, it looks like the company may be doing something interesting with Android beyond phones and foldable. Miner was working on Android when it was built by a company called Android, Inc., which would later be acquired by Google. He's done a lot of things since then (including helping Google figure out which startups to invest in), but it looks like he's now working back on Android, with a view to doing better. for tablets.
It's not just the role of Miner that shows that Google has a renewed focus on devices with larger screens. The upcoming Android 12L update, which is currently in beta, is focused on improving the tablet and folding experience. A job posting for a "Senior Engineering Manager, Android Tablet App Experience" set by 9to5Google also says that Google believes that "the future of computing is shifting towards more powerful and capable tablets."
It's a bit of a face - to - face for Google - in 2019 the company said its hardware team had finished working on tablets and would focus fully on laptops. While Google's hardware manager said that "the Android and Chrome OS teams are 100% committed to the long-term work of our tablet partners," in the wake of the not-so-large Pixel Slate (which used Chrome OS instead of Android) it was hard to feel excited about the future of Google-powered tablets.
Now, with the rumors and rumors that Google is working on its own foldable Pixel phone (which could basically end up being a phone that turns into a tablet), it certainly looks like the company is planning to return to the tablet space somehow. Google said it had no comment on whether it had reconsidered working on its own tablets.
but Miner himself has made some interesting comments on Twitter. He retweeted ComputerWorld's article with the comment “Definitely a sad story, but there is an indication of hope in the end. What is it [Rich Miner] fire up to ... ”He too responded to a comment from Mishaal Rahman and said that Android 12L, an upcoming update focused on larger screens, is a "good start."
While the iPad is the main focus of conversation around tablets, Apple does not completely dominate the market. According to market research firm IDC, Apple was the biggest tablet seller in the third quarter of 2021 with a market share of around 34 percent. But it leaves abundant room for competitors like Samsung (the second largest with about 18 percent market share in Q3 2021), Amazon and more. While it is very possible that Google is just planning to focus on its relationship with tablet OEMs, it would not be unwelcome to take another crack at a Pixel tablet - especially for people with fond memories of the Nexus 7.
Update 28 January at 19:16 ET: Added information from Google about the role of the miner.