Android’s long and complicated history with tablets has taken a new, if small, turn: Google has removed the tablet section from the Android.com website.

Yesterday visiting android.com/tablets/ would take you to a page showing a handful of tablets powered by the operating system, some tips for using android on a tablet, and some apps and games optimized for tablet-sized screens.

As spotted by Android Police, enter the same URL in your web browser today and you’ll be redirected Android.com homepage.

Update: The website change that sparked a thousand editorials on the death of Android tablets was apparently just a mistake. Google’s Hiroshi Lockheimer says the “we had a bug when we updated the site,” and the Android tablets website is now back online. 

Then again, as Android Police’s Artem Russakovskii points out, now that the site is back online, it still looks horribly outdated: it features a trio of tablets that were released in 2015. 

Archive.org snapshot of android.com/tablets/ from 5/31/2018

Original article continues below

Android started its life as a smartphone operating system, but that didn’t stop companies like Samsung and Archos from loading it onto tablets as early as 2010.

By 2011 Google launched the first version of Android that was actually designed for tablets… although Android 3.0 Honeycomb was such a rush job that Google only released the source code for Honeycomb when it launched Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich later that year.

Over the years Google has tweaked the tablet user interface a few times and tried to encourage developers to create apps that take advantage of the larger screens on tablets rather than just showing a smartphone-style UI on a big screen. But developers haven’t really adopted the phone + tablet ecosystem for Android quite as enthusiastically as iOS app developers have for iPhones and iPads.

Companies have released hundreds of tablets (at least) since the first Samsung Galaxy Tab hit the streets. But they’ve long struggled to find their place… particularly as smartphone screens have gotten bigger and iPads have gotten cheaper (prices for the latest iPads start at $329).

Arguably some of the most successful Android tablets aren’t running stock Android software at all: Amazon’s Fire tablets sell for $50 and up and offer a lot of bang for the buck… but they run a heavily modified version of Android called Fire OS and they don’t ship with the Google Play Store pre-installed, using Amazon’s own Appstore instead.

Some companies continue to release high-end Android tablets. Samsung has a few models, and so does Huawei.

This isn’t to say there’s no demand for Android tablets: they certainly fill a niche. Windows tablets have a touch-friendly user interface but there aren’t nearly as many finger-friendly apps in the Microsoft Store as in the Google Play Store. Apple tablets… tend to appeal to folks who like Apple products.

But as someone who has dabbled with Android tablets a lot over the past 8 years, my favorite has probably been the 2017 Amazon Fire HD 8. It has a decent display size and resolution, a reasonably fast processor, and best of all, I picked it up when it was on sale for $50 last year… so I don’t feel bad about the fact that I’ll sometimes go weeks at a time without touching it.

Anyway, Google deemphasizing Android tablets on its website doesn’t mean the company is done with the form factor altogether. All signs point to Google continuing to support tablets… it’s just that Google is shifting its focus to Chrome OS tablets.

The $600 HP Chromebook x2 is the first 2-in-1 Chrome OS tablet to ship, and the $329 Acer Chromebook Tab 10 should be available soon.

Both run Google’s browser-centric Chrome operating system, but they also support the Google Play Store for Android apps. They have a touch-friendly user interface including an app launcher and on-screen keyboard. And they both support pen input as well as fingers.

 

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15 replies on “Google’s Android website doesn’t mention tablets anymore (Update: Now it does)”

  1. Sales have slowed because previous models are still doing good. Have a Nexus 10, a Sony Z2, two Nexus 7s, and a Nexus 6. All have Resurrection Remix installed on them with recent security updates. Each works well, doing what I need a tablet to do. Why would I buy replacements? With a desktop and a laptop in the home there isn’t a dependency on these tablets for a primary internet device, so I’m good for another year or two.

  2. Finally decided to retire my Pixel C and upgraded to the Samsung Chromebook Pro. I really love it and don’t miss the Pixel C. ChromeOS is really impressive and having a full browser on my tablet is something I’ve always wished Android had. I have to log into my business apps, which are all web based, and are crippled when on a mobile device (even when requesting Desktop Mode). When I upgraded from my iPad Air 2 to my iPad Pro 10.5, Safari no longer forced the crippled version of the business apps, but my Pixel C was still hampered by the Android version of Chrome on it. The Samsung Chromebook Pro fixed my inability to use my Android tablet with my business applications. I usually use my Chromebook Pro in tablet mode, since that’s my preference, so I have an eye on the new Acer Chromebook Tab 10 or the new HP. I’m just waiting for the reviews to hit.

  3. I travel a lot and carry a Galaxy Tab 4 8″ tablet to watch movies/videos; it’s big enough to have a decent viewing experience but doesn’t take up a lot of room in my carry-on. Phone screens, even a 5.5 inch one like I have, just aren’t great for watching a movie on a plane. The Android tablet has an SD card slot so I can load it up with tons of media before heading out, and I can plug in an external flash drive to add even more capacity (which iOS doesn’t allow). I prefer keeping my music and videos on an Android platform because I can easily move media files back and forth between my PC media server and my tablet; I hate iTunes because it forces me to put everything in the walled garden of the Apple world, although I do have an iPad for other uses.

  4. I have a Nexus 7 (2013)

    If I am not mistaken, Google no longer updates it.

    Can anyone tell me if there is any danger in using it?

    Thanks!

    1. I’m posting from my Nexus 7 2013 now. It seems to run the latest chrome browser so I think it is relatively safe. I prefer it much more that my phone… It has 33% more screen area than a 6inch phone… That’s an extra 5 sq inches.
      https://screen-size.info

    2. I have two of those. Resurrection Remix is installed on both and have recent security updates. It requires root, but the Nexus Toolkit will do that for you. Research it on the XDA Forum, it may be for you.

      1. Thank you!

        Someone at work told me about “LineageOS” – I wonder how that would compare with “Resurrection Remix”

  5. These ideas that the tablet category itself is what has disappeared due to larger phones and greater web support for phones completely ignores that ipads are still doing fine. Yes they don’t sell as well as they used to but they still sell fine.
    Google getting out of Android tablets is all about them getting into Chrome OS tablets I think and it’s a brilliant solution. I think it’s going to work out very well for them.

  6. Android tablets are still very widely deployed, we just call them phones now.

    When “tablets” were the hot new thing phones were 4″ and tablets werre 7″ or 8″.

    We now have 5″ to 6″ ‘phones’ everywhere.

  7. Hi, Brad! There is an ad on liliputing that I think has some malicious code embedded in it (probably a miner), because it taxes my CPU to 100% every now and then. I can’t tell which ad it is, because the browser crashes and burns, but according to chrome’s taskmanager it’s the liliputing tab that has 100% CPU just before the crash. Also I use adblocker on most sites, but not on liliputing, so most of my tabs are not suspicious.

    1. I’m having the same issues. On Pale Moon, I’m loaded with blockers and having no issues reading. To comment, I switch over to Opera (which has little protection). If I leave the tab open for a couple of minutes, my cpu goes up to 100% and the page becomes unsable. Forced to close the tab a couple of times and reopen.

      Had to write this comment offline and paste quickly.

  8. I tried the Amazon Fire and installed the Google Play store, but I was not happy with the performance on some apps so I switched to a refurbished Samsung Galaxy A 8″ which has been great (was only $129). I keep looking for a higher resolution tablet that is not expensive. I might give the Teclast Master T8 a try.

  9. I still use a tablet regularly (a $100 rooted 10 inch Amazon Kindle Fire) but only for consuming media, casual browsing and casual games.

    But overall, their demise has only gotten closer as smartphones have gotten faster, bigger, and more capable and more ubiquitous, in the sense that people use them for just about everything these days. On the other side, web and app developers have gotten much better at creating interfaces for the small form factor, so there isn’t as much need for people to switch to a larger screen, unless it’s to use a keyboard as well (i.e. laptop).

    I certainly used to surf more on my tablet than I did on my phone, but not any more. If anything, I prefer just using a well-designed website on a phone than switching to a tablet or computer.

    1. Device use is not “either smartphone or tablet”. It depends on who uses devices for what. For some people (e.g., me), tablets (or ebook readers or 2-in-1s abused as tablets) are and will be the ideal mobile device category for contents-rich documents (e.g. PDFs), contents-rich browsing or other tasks.

      I do not care much whether Google demotes tablets because there are Windows and iOS.

      What demise of tablets? First of all, we see market saturation and longer use of good-enough tablets. Sure, there are also those having replaced much of their tablet use by phablets or large smartphones, but this is not the same as a demise of tablets.

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