One of the original founders of Android, Rich Miner, is working on Android tablets, a fact revealed recently in a ComputerWorld report dig into Google’s history with tablets. miners LinkedIn page seems to confirm it, listing his current title as “CTO Android Tablets”, saying he’s held that role since March 2021. Google told Custom Hour in an email that its specific role is to “lead software development for Android for big screens.” in the ‘Platforms and ecosystems’ team.
Given that someone pivotal to Android’s history is now working on tablets, and some of the job openings Google has posted, it seems the company is doing something interesting with Android beyond phones and foldable devices. Miner was working on Android when it was built by a company called Android, Inc., which would later be acquired by Google. He’s done a lot of stuff since then (including helping Google figure out which startups to invest in), but it looks like he’s back working on Android now, with a view to making it better for tablets.
Google believes that “the future of computers is shifting towards more powerful and capable tablets.”
It’s not just Miner’s role that shows Google’s renewed focus on larger screen devices. The upcoming Android 12L update, which is currently in beta, aims to improve the tablet and foldable experience. A vacancy for a “Senior Engineering Manager, Android Tablet App Experience” spotted by 9to5Google also says that Google believes “the future of computers is shifting towards more powerful and capable tablets.”
That’s a bit of a turning point for Google — in 2019, the company said its hardware team was done with tablets and would focus entirely on laptops. While Google’s hardware leader said the “Android and Chrome OS teams are 100% committed to working with our partners on tablets,” in the wake of the not-so-great Pixel Slate (which used Chrome OS instead of Android) it was hard to get excited about the future of Google-powered tablets.
Now, with the hiring and rumors that Google is working on its own Pixel foldable phone (which could in fact become a phone that turns into a tablet), it definitely looks like the company is planning one way or another. return to the tablet room. Google said it had no comment on whether it had reconsidered working on its own tablets.
but Miner himself has made some interesting comments on Twitter. He retweeted ComputerWorld’s article commented “Absolutely a sad story, but there is a sign of hope at the end. What is that [Rich Miner] dude until…” Him too responded to a comment from Mishaal Rahman, who says Android 12L, an upcoming update aimed at larger screen devices, is a “good start”.
Although the iPad is the main topic of conversation around tablets, Apple is not completely dominating the market. According to market research firm IDC, Apple was the largest tablet seller in the third quarter of 2021, with a market share of about 34 percent. But that leaves plenty of room for competitors like Samsung (the second largest with a market share of about 18 percent in Q3 2021), Amazon and more. While it’s entirely possible that Google just intends to focus on its relationship with tablet OEMs, it wouldn’t be unwelcome to use a Pixel tablet again, especially for those with fond memories of the Nexus 7.
Update January 28, 7:16 PM ET: Added information from Google about the miner role.