A new Google Pixel Tablet leak appears to reveal that the incoming iPad rival will have a privacy switch, which means it could be as much a home smart display as it is a tablet.
The new images, published by the leaker SnoopyTech on Twitter, show a switch on the edge of the tablet next to its camera, which hasn't been visible in the photos we've previously seen from Google.
Given that the Pixel Tablet is expected to be a smart display that sits in its dock at home, this toggle is most likely a privacy switch like the ones we've previously seen on devices like the Google Nest Hub Max. Those switches let you quickly disable the microphone and camera when you're at home.
Still not sure if this was the best design pic.twitter.com/o9e7iBBnR9April 13, 2023
We already knew that the Pixel Tablet would be something of a successor to Google's smart displays, given that Google has already released images of it sitting on tables for home video calls.
But this leak comes just a few days after news broke that Google has effectively killed third-party smart displays that use its voice Assistant, suggesting that the search giant is now quite keen to claim that market for itself.
The Pixel Tablet, though, may be a next-gen example of what Google wants a smart display to be, rather than simply a slap in the face to anyone who bought a now-unsupported Lenovo Smart Display. And with the expected inclusion of a Tensor G2 chipset and a version of Android called Android 12L, it will likely make previous smart displays look quite dated.
But the Pixel Tablet's expected arrival at Google IO 2023 in May could also be greeted with a slow clap by anyone who's previously invested in one of those now effectively defunct third-party displays.
Analysis: a tablet without a cause?
Google previewed the Google Pixel Tablet almost a year ago at Google IO 2022, so suspicions had been growing that it was either vaporware, or had been sent on a fast-track to the increasingly-crowded Google Graveyard.
These new leaks do at least suggest that the tablet is nearing its launch, most likely at Google IO 2023. But it remains something of a confusing device, particularly given that recent news about Google abandoning third-party smart displays.
One of the biggest weaknesses of these home devices hasn't been hardware, but poor software integration and stagnating voice assistants. For example, we found the Google Nest Hub Max to have patchy connectivity to Google's own Nest cameras.
Our expectations for voice assistants are also changing given the incredible conversational powers of ChatGPT and Google Bard. The slow and disjointed process of talking to Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant now feels a lot less appealing, and there's evidence that both Google and Amazon have drastically reduced investment in the voice assistants that would power devices like the Pixel Tablet.
Still, perhaps the slowly-improving Matter smart home standard could present fresh opportunities for home-based controllers like the Pixel Tablet – and that's one of the many things we're looking forward to finding out at Google IO 2023.