One of Android’s founders, Rich Miner, is working on Android tablets, a fact recently revealed in a computer world report digging into Google’s history with tablets. Miner’s LinkedIn page appears to confirm this, listing his current title as “CTO Android Tablets”, and indicates that he has held the position since March 2021. Google told The Verge in an email that his specific role was to ” leading the development of software for Android for large screens” within the “Platforms and Ecosystems” team.
Given that someone essential to Android’s story is now working on tablets and Google has posted some job openings, it looks like the company is doing something interesting with Android beyond phones and foldables. Miner worked on Android when it was built by a company called Android, Inc., which was later acquired by Google. He’s done a lot since then (including helping Google figure out which startups to invest in), but now it looks like he’s working on Android again, with the goal of making it better for tablets.
It’s not just Miner’s role that shows Google’s focus on larger-screen devices again. The upcoming Android 12L update, which is currently in beta, is focused on improving the tablet and foldable experience. A job offer for a “Senior Engineering Manager, Android Tablet App Experience” spotted by 9to5Google also says that Google believes “the future of computing is moving toward more powerful and capable tablets.”
It’s a bit of a flip-flop for Google – in 2019 the company said its hardware team was done working on tablets and would focus entirely on laptops. While Google’s head of hardware said “the Android and Chrome OS teams are 100% committed for the long term to working with our partners on tablets,” following the not-so-great Pixel Slate (which used Chrome OS instead of Android), it was hard to get excited about the future of Google-powered tablets.
Now, with the hiring and rumors that Google is working on its own foldable Pixel phone (which could essentially become a phone that converts into a tablet), it looks like the company is planning to return to the tablet space in a way. or another. Google said it had no comment on whether it reconsidered working on its own tablets.
but Miner himself made some interesting comments on Twitter. He retweeted computer world‘s article with the comment “Certainly a sad story, but there is an indication of hope at the end. What is that [Rich Miner] guys until…” He also replied to a comment from Mishaal Rahman, saying Android 12L, an upcoming update focused on larger screen devices, is a “good start”.
While the iPad is at the center of conversations around tablets, Apple does not completely dominate the market. According to market research firm IDC, Apple was the top seller of tablets in the third quarter of 2021, with a market share of around 34%. But that leaves many room for competitors like Samsung (the second with around 18% market share in the third quarter of 2021), Amazon, etc. While it’s very possible that Google is just planning to focus on its relationship with tablet makers, it wouldn’t be out of place to take another crack at a Pixel tablet, especially for people with fond memories of the Nexus 7. .
Update of January 28 at 7:16 p.m.: Added information from Google about the role of Miner.