According to a recently-published report by Computerworld, Google is "officially done" making tablets. This follows in the wake of last year's poorly-received Chrome OS-powered Pixel Slate, and subsequent rumors of downsizing the hardware division responsible. This will not affect the division responsible for the Pixel phones, and Google still apparently has plans for future laptop-style devices.
Computerworld was able to confirm the details with a Google spokesperson. The company reportedly had two more tablets in the works, both smaller than the Pixel Slate, and development on those has since been suspended. Employees who were working on the tablet-side of the hardware division will be reassigned to other projects and areas, with most apparently being moved to work on laptops.
On that note, the same spokesperson told Computerworld that we might see new laptop-style Pixelbook hardware come from Google before the end of the year. The Pixelbook remains one of the nicest Chromebooks you can get in our opinion when it comes to details like hardware quality, though it has since been surpassed when it comes to speed and specs. (Personally, I think it has one of the best keyboards of any laptops released in recent memory.) Last year the company was rumored to release an updated version of the Pixelbook, though it never materialized.
We reached out to Google to seek our own confirmation of these details, but none was forthcoming at the time of writing. In the meantime, Google giving up on making first-party tablets (especially those powered by Chrome OS) probably isn't a huge loss. Computerworld claims the Chrome OS software team will still be plugging away at tablets and the touch-centric form factor, though. Recently, the convergence in touch/non-touch design in Chrome OS has resulted in a few usability problems with things like the new (but admittedly incomplete) virtual desktops interface.
We have secured our own confirmation from Google about this change. The following statement was provided by a Google spokesperson:
Chrome OS has grown in popularity across a broad range of form factors and we'll continue to work with our ecosystem of partners on laptops and tablets. For Google's first-party hardware efforts, we'll be focusing on Chrome OS laptops and will continue to support Pixel Slate.
Rick Osterloh, Senior VP of Devices & Services at Google, also confirmed the news in a tweet:
Hey, it's true...Google's HARDWARE team will be solely focused on building laptops moving forward, but make no mistake, Android & Chrome OS teams are 100% committed for the long-run on working with our partners on tablets for all segments of the market (consumer, enterprise, edu)
— Rick Osterloh (@rosterloh) June 20, 2019
Support for Google's existing Chrome OS tablet will continue going forward, and Chrome OS itself will continue to support the form factor even though Google will no longer be making first-party tablets.