Google’s New Pixel Tablet Might Be the Perfect Smart Home Device

Google’s New Pixel Tablet Might Be the Perfect Smart Home Device

Google I/O 2023 was very AI heavy, leaning in on changes to Google Search and its products by introducing greater AI features, but while a lot of the presentation was very technical, there’s plenty of stuff that was announced that you should know about – like a new tablet and a new phone.

Let’s get you up to speed on Google I/O 2023 and all the coolest things that came with it.

The Google Pixel Tablet

Kicking things off is the Google Pixel Tablet, Google’s first tablet with the Pixel name and a unique approach to the technology that’s worthy of consideration if you mainly use your tablet in the home.

The Google Pixel Tablet is built off the same tech as its similarly-named phone counterparts, using a Google Tensor G2 chip and the same operating system (reconfigured for a tablet). It’s 11 inches in size with a resolution of 1,600 x 2,560, and possibly its most unique feature is that it comes with a speaker/charger docking station (which comes included in the box with every Pixel Tablet purchase).

This is an interesting approach to the tablet market because most tablets are just sold as a midway between being a big-screened phone (without phone calling features) and a laptop (with a touch-based operating system that’s less dependent on a mouse or physical keyboard). Rather, the Google Pixel Tablet seems to be more like a Google Nest than anything else, and operationally seems to function more like a smart home device than anything else.

This is, of course, a very attractive thing to me, given that this is exactly what I use my iPad for. My iPad is currently being used in a stationary position, with Siri effectively being a talking light switch.

The difference is that the Google Pixel Tablet is designed with smart home use in mind from the very start. The speaker-charging dock is set at an upwards tilt, making it look like the Google Nest Hub Max. When you dock the iPad, the speakers switch to the dock, and when not connected, it switches back to the tablet.

Additionally, the device includes an 8MP selfie camera and two 8MP cameras on the back.

The Google Pixel Tablet is available in either White or Grey, with a 128GB model ($899) and a 256GB model ($999) available (the grey model does not have a 256GB storage capacity option). It’ll be available from June 20.

The Google Pixel 7a

While the Google Pixel Tablet is far and away the thing I’m most excited about, the Google Pixel 7a isn’t far behind. The Google Pixel 7a is a budget-oriented phone that strips away some of the features of the Google Pixel 7 range. It ships with a 6.1-inch FHD+ OLED display and a 90hz refresh rate, a Google Tensor G2, 128GB storage (8GB RAM) and three colour options: charcoal, sea and snow.

Additionally, its camera system includes a 64MP wide camera, a 13MP ultrawide and an 8MP selfie camera. I’ve been using the Pixel 7a for the past week, instead of my standard Pixel 7 Pro, and I think it’s a brilliant device. The 90hz refresh rate on the display (up from 60hz on the Pixel 6a) really makes the device feel much more premium this time around.

The Google Pixel 7a is available as of May 11 for $749.

Just a note on the Google Pixel Fold

If you’re just catching the headlines, you’ll note that Google revealed a foldable device during its I/O 2023 event. Unfortunately, the phone is not coming to Australia at this time. Sorry about that.

Android updates

Google made clear that its Android platform for tablets would be getting optimisation improvements with the coming updates, and that improvements across the board were coming for Android. Additionally, Find My Device will be getting an update in the coming weeks to support more tech so that users can track their gadgets if they get lost (and give users alerts if there’s a tracker following them).

Android 14 will also ship with a Material You customisation update, giving the user more variety when it comes to picking a lock screen clock and style. A new ‘monochrome’ theme is also coming.

Wallpaper creation is also something Google is focusing on. You’ll soon be able to combine emojis to make your own wallpapers, and using AI, cinematic wallpapers will soon be shipped on Android 14, turning photos into 3D images as you move your device. There’s also an AI-generated wallpaper generator coming, where you type in a prompt and the phone spits out an AI image to use as a background.

Oh, and Windows is getting Nearby Share support (the Google version of Apple Airdrop).

All the AI stuff

Google’s going hard on AI, and its I/O 2023 event is no exception. The tech giant revealed that Google Bard is now available in Australia, Bard being the company’s AI chatbot that can answer text-based queries. You can use it here. Google Maps is also getting AI enhancements to visualise routes before the user gets going.

It doesn’t stop there. Messaging is getting a generative AI feature called Magic Compose, letting users add extra personality or sharpness to their messages (for example, a boring sentence can be translated into Shakespearean text). This feature is expected to roll out in beta in the coming weeks.

The company also introduced a new language model (PaLM 2) and revealed that generative AI would be coming to Google Search so that user searches can be solved within an AI-driven widget. Google’s AI-enhanced Search is rolling out to the U.S. from May 11 (no word on an Australian release just yet). What does it look like? Well, it looks like this:

And a cool new safety feature

Finally, Google will also be rolling out some new safety features across its tech. The highlight is a new ‘about this image’ button on images which will give a user additional context on an image on Google Images, giving you information on where else on the internet the image has been seen.

And that’s about it

That’s about it for the highlight features of Google I/O 2023. So much AI, but some cool stuff around it too.

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