The purpose of this article is not to argue that the new Google Pixel Tablet is superior than the iPad. Leaving aside the debate between Android and iOS/iPadOS, it is evident that Apple had an advantage in the tablet market and made the effort to stick with a successful approach for more than a decade, in contrast to Google, who tried and stopped and changed course so frequently. To get to where it is with the iPad today – well ahead — Apple had 13 years to hone its tablet OS and entice independent software developers. Consequently, it is even illogical to compare the two.
Nevertheless, after using the Google Pixel Tablet for more than a week, I can report that Google pleasantly surprised me on a few occasions. Some parts of the experience on the Google Pixel Tablet are superior than those on my iPad Air thanks to a few minor enhancements here and there. Together, let’s investigate them.
Fingerprint unlock without pressing the button
Although the power button on the Google Pixel Tablet and iPad Air both houses a fingerprint sensor, the two tablets don’t utilise the same technique, and that was the first distinction I noticed. On my iPad Air, I have to either turn on the display, or hit the power button to wake up the tablet, and then hold my finger down for a little period of time to unlock it without going through the lock screen. I frequently forget to do that, thus I have to wait for the unlock before realising my error and placing my finger on the sensor once more.
This tedious extra step is not required on the Google Pixel Tablet or many other Android tablets and smartphones. Simply by holding my finger on the power button for a little period of time, the Google Pixel Tablet instantly wakes up and unlocks. I don’t have to touch the power button or turn on the display first. I, the primary user, do not require those; another user will. Smaller yet, but I consider any reduction in friction to be a success.
Better handling of incompatible apps
On the iPad, Apple’s policy on incompatible, iPhone-only apps is rather simple: Although you may download them, they will either run in the centre of the screen or expand into a layout that resembles a low-res fullscreen. These apps do not receive any of the advantages enjoyed by iPad apps, such as Slide Over or multi-window.
In comparison to how Android manages phone-only applications, this is extremely different. Since the platform was created with a wide range of devices in mind, applications frequently scale to fit all screen sizes rather effectively. There are outliers, though, and the Google Pixel Tablet somewhat manages them better than the iPad.
Apps try to occupy the full display when feasible, but they also sometimes have some black bars on the side. In either case, there is very little to no resolution loss. Despite the fact that Instagram, GetYourGuide, Booking, Deliveroo, and Uber Eats aren’t optimised for Android Google Pixel Tablet, I don’t see any pixelation in any of these applications. You may double-tap to shift the app to either side when they appear in landscape mode with black bars on each side.
The nicest part is that I can still open another app next to these programmes while they are running in landscape and still use multi-window, giving me all the advantages with less black backgrounds.
The one thing about this whole system that bothers me is that, unlike iPadOS, Android app makers may fully prevent your Google Pixel Tablet from downloading their phone-only apps, even if those apps ought to function just fine. One such instance is AllTrails, however I was able to get the APK and manually install it.
Split Gboard and a superior keyboard experience
I can detach and float the on-screen keyboard on both the iPad Air and Google Pixel Tablet so that I can more easily access all the letters. On Android tablets, however, Gboard goes above and beyond by providing a split mode in both portrait and landscape orientations. I can hold the Google Pixel Tablet while typing by moving all the buttons to either side of the display, where they are easier for my thumbs to reach. And I should add, rather comfortably.
This is in addition to Gboard’s other features, which are unmatched on iOS or iPadOS. Cool emoji mashups, a simple way to search for and input GIFs, a built-in translator, a number row, and a clipboard to store snippets and paste from your history. That is modern wizardry.
Better notification madness management
Although Android’s excellent notification handling has received a lot of attention, I think Google Pixel Tablet require it even more. By design, this is a secondary device, therefore it would be insane for it to slam me with a tonne of alerts every time I pick it up.
Apple’s approach to app notifications is all or nothing. There is no grey area; you either help them or you don’t. In my experience, this is frequently the exception rather than the rule. Some developers are gracious enough to allow you choose inside the app what sorts of alerts you wish to receive. You wouldn’t attempt to prevent that when you had free reign to ping the user repeatedly for anything in order to boost your app’s interactions and stats, would you?
Contrarily, Android introduced notification channels with Android 8.0 Oreo in 2017, and over time, developers have been forced to use them. These days, it seems that even the more reserved ones use channel management. I don’t have to see my Amazon order from two days ago or a message I received on Telegram the day before because of these channels, which enable me pick exactly which alerts I want to view on the Google Pixel Tablet. For example, I may limit the kind of communications I receive from Uber Eats and WhatsApp to orders only.
Multitasking in portrait mode
Although I usually use my tablets equally in portrait and landscape modes, all tablet manufacturers (understandably) give the latter preference in their interface designs. On the iPad, for instance, I am unable to divide the screen into two windows while in portrait mode; instead, I must utilise a secondary programme as a Slide Over, which overlays the main app with a very tall and virtually unusable version of the app.
On Google Pixel Tablet running Android, multiwindows are supported in portrait mode. It displays the applications stacked on top of one another rather than dividing them to run in an unnecessary tall side-by-side mode. This results in largely square-like windows that are yet quite functional. Even better, I can easily switch between the two programmes by double tapping the divider. This comes in useful when I activate the keyboard but still want to view the app I’m currently using on top.
WhatsApp for Android tablets
Although there is currently no native WhatsApp app for iPads, Android tablets have a head start. The native WhatsApp is excellently optimised for the bigger screen and can be used as a “linked device” to your primary phone in a multi-device WhatsApp configuration or independently with a dedicated phone number. I chose the latter so I wouldn’t have to take out my phone and could view all of my discussions and pick up where I left off on my Google Pixel Tablet. However, if you reside in the US or your friends and family members use a different texting service, this won’t be a major problem.
Always-on digital photo frame
I had to add the dock in order to wrap up this post since it distinguishes the Google Pixel Tablet from other tablets on the market today, including the top Samsung tablets and the iPad lineup. The Pixel Tablet is always charged when I need it and still functional when I don’t because of it. It has taken the place of my Lenovo Smart Display in the kitchen and serves as an always-on digital photo frame that shows the most recent and memorable photos of my husband and I.
It frequently causes us to pause and grin at a particular circumstance or someone, and it has so frequently prompted me to pick up the phone and call friends and relatives. There is absolutely nothing comparable in the environment of Apple.
There are yet more features of the Google Pixel Tablet that I find appealing. The ability to arrange icons on the home screen wherever I choose is a clear advantage over Apple’s imposed top-to-bottom layout. Additionally, I can utilise Emoji and Cinematic backgrounds now rather than waiting until the autumn to add more lock screen personalization to my iPad. The At A Glance widget on the Pixel is interactive and useful, and the reliable back gesture is a comfort.
I just regret that I am unable to use Continuity between my iMac and the Google Pixel Tablet. Therefore, the Pixel Tablet is limited to use in the kitchen, bed, and sofa for the time being, while the iPad Air continues to be the undeniable secondary display on my desk.
Why tablets are better than iPads?
The iPad runs on Apple’s iOS, whereas the majority of tablets utilise Android. You won’t have any trouble using tablets to browse Flash-based websites, Flash games, or Flash videos since unlike iPads, tablets can utilise common software for displaying online videos.