It has taken years, it has taken close to 7 years yet the result is here. Finally there is a competitor to the iPad, it is not some Microsoft claim; no it is an actual tablet that is finally waking up to the fact that Apple has been alone at the top for too long. It is Google and their Pixel Slate that got the job done of getting there.
Will it remain?
That is indeed a good question. In my view they still need a smart keyboard to stand up to the iPad Pro, but when that arrives Apple will actually get a competitor. The main elements storage and battery have been addressed and that is a good thing. This is seen in the Guardian where we see: “Battery life was excellent for a work tablet, lasting close to 10 hours between charges when used like a laptop, with 10 or so Chrome tabs open alongside various chat, imaging and media apps” (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/nov/27/google-pixel-slate-review-chrome-os-android-tablets). It is a little better than the first iPad (which I still use today to a limited amount). As we see battery in the positive, we need to see the price in the negative. The two bigger models, essential for storage reasons are actually too expensive, with $1700 for 128Gb and $2730 for 256Gb this solution is expensive, no way around it, the iPad pro with 512Gb is still way cheaper, almost $500 cheaper and it is an iPad Pro. I am not dismissing that the two bigger models come with an i5 and i7, the Apple processor defeats the stronger of the 2 (i7) by well over 10% which starts to add up. Still, it is the first time that a tablet is actually competitive against the latest Apple has.
Google still has a few other parts to clean and grow apps and iBook elements to name merely two of them, yet the hardware is now here. I reckon with larger development kits for Chrome and a massive discount for students it would be the option for Google to create traction that gives rise to larger acceleration catching up to Apple in this case. Even as Huawei is also giving rise with their new media pads, it was not getting too close to the iPad Pro, Google is getting there a lot better and for those with a personal ‘discomfort’ for Apple, the Google tablet is an optional solution.
I mentioned keyboards and the Google Pixel Slate does have one, but it has a few design flaws. Even as they had the option to close that gap, I see that there is an issue in the reported parts. The quote: “Unfortunately when closed the keyboard side slides around against the screen, which might end up scratching the display and feels less than reassuring when carried” seems to hit the nail on the head, even as I came up with the Google Tome design almost two years ago, that and a few other issues would have been solved, yet it seems that Sundar decided not to be too adventurous in that regard (perhaps in other regards as well).
Still, in the end the Pixel slate is a lovely surprise to look at. Not only is it a competitive device (all being way too expensive), the push for Chrome OS is showing to be an IOS alternative that many can embrace. Once the indie developers start rebuilding their well selling apps, we will see a much larger growth for the Google stores. When it comes to apps, Google has nowhere near the option that Apple has, yet I have not found any functionality in an app (besides games) that Android could not supply when IOS had it (the ones I needed anyway). This now leaves the iBook part to be dealt with, once we see Google offering that to an Apple level, at that point we will see close to a level playing field and Apple has never faced that situation before in tablet land, so the next two years could end up being interesting for us and challenging for Apple.