Google might have just announced its first foldable phone in the Pixel Fold, and treated us to another excellent Pixel 'a' device in the Pixel 7a, but it has also announced an Android Pixel Tablet with a nifty little trick up its sleeve.
The Pixel Tablet comes with a docking station, which although doesn't have the catchiest name - everybody put your hands together for the Charging Speaker Dock - it delivers a feature that makes this tablet far more exciting than just another slab - Hub Mode.
Essentially, Hub Mode turns the Pixel Tablet into a two-in-one device. Take it off its Charging Speaker Dock and you can use it as you would any other tablet - dabble in a bit of work, watch a bit of Netflix, play a couple of games, you know, the usual stuff. When the Pixel Tablet is on its Dock though, Hub Mode effectively turns this device into a Nest Hub Max or Nest Hub for delightful and simple smart home control with minimised interruptions.
You might not think that's all that exciting, and if you don't use Google Home for your smart home control, it perhaps isn't. If like me however, you have the Nest Hub Max or Nest Hub for controlling your smart lights, heating and cameras, but you also have an iPad that you use for doing your work or binge watching your favourite show, the Pixel Tablet has just highlighted a feature we'd really like on iPad.
Apple's iPad is exceptional at a number of things. It's great for multitasking, there are thousands of apps that are optimised for it - like the recently announced Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro - and the overall experience is brilliant, whatever model you choose. But, while you can open up the Google Home app on an iPad and control your smart home devices through that, or you can use Apple's Home app if you have HomeKit compatible devices, there isn't a dedicated docking station or simplified home mode you can switch into for a more basic control screen of smart home devices - or a rolling slideshow of your photos for that matter.
Apple has been rumoured to be working on a HomePod with a display which may of course offer something along the lines of the Pixel Tablet's Hub Mode - HomeOS anyone? - but for now that device is a figment of the imagination. Whether it will eventually launch or not is anyone's guess, but there's also the question as to whether it's necessary. Google has clearly decided a tablet can serve a dual purpose as both a standard tablet and a smart home control hub so surely the same could apply to the iPad?
I'd love to see an equivalent of the Pixel Tablet's Hub Mode on iPad, and even if I can't have a dedicated home control mode on iPadOS that incorporates Siri and all its banter with controlling my Philips Hue lights, a docking station as a little house for my iPad where it could then act as a digital photo frame, like the Pixel Tablet, would be just delightful.
Google Pixel Tablet
The Google Pixel Tablet has some promising specs, including a 10.95-inch display. It comes with a dock that will not only charge it 24/7 but it doubles up as a speaker and you can use Hub Mode when the device is docked for quick smart home device control.