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 accessible for preorder beginning as we speak, Could tenth, and can start delivery 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 inexpensive, 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 trouble 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 usually use tablets for: watching video or taking part in video games within the consolation of their very own house. It’s not, 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 may show a slideshow of images from a Google Pictures album.

The seems 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 like plastic from a distance, the Pixel Pill has an aluminum body with a nanotexture coating, not not like 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 “lifeless pill in a drawer” syndrome: it’s a spot to retailer the Pixel Pill when it’s not in use; it costs 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. If you happen to’re taking part in music or watching a video on the pill once you put it on the dock, it should 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 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 fully totally different software program and has totally different capabilities in comparison with the Nest Hub.

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

The Pixel Pill seems 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 supplies as much as 12 hours of video streaming between costs, and there’s a USB-C port for wired charging in the event you don’t have the dock with you. However in additional proof that Google expects most individuals to by no means take the pill exterior of the house, it’s solely accessible in Wi-Fi-only configurations; there are not 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 digital camera is located within the upper-right nook of the pill, and on the entrance, one other eight-megapixel digital camera is centered within the prime bezel once you maintain the pill in panorama orientation, the place it needs to be. A fingerprint scanner is constructed into the ability 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 record is a keyboard or stylus — this isn’t the pill you purchase to exchange a laptop computer. (You possibly can, after all, 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 shall 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 telephone, 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 accessible with a swipe up from the underside of the display screen.

However whilst 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 way in which of productiveness options. Samsung, Apple, and even OnePlus are doing far more to make their tablets extra conducive to getting work carried out on them than Google appears to be eager about proper now. It is going to show your entire favourite streaming apps in full display screen, nevertheless.

And that basically 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 towards any type 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 possible gained’t clear up that drawback. However in the event you simply wish to watch the newest episode of Succession whereas sitting in your sofa, you possible don’t care that the Slack app seems foolish on the Pixel Pill’s display screen.

Google spent years attempting to divine the way forward for computing in its pill efforts — it constructed artistic 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 attempting an easier strategy with the Pixel Pill, and I feel it’s one lots of people is likely to be eager about.

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.