Tablet mode

Google’s return to tablets could look like a Nest Hub

The company is eyeing a version of the Nest Hub smart home device with a detachable screen.

The Nest Hub 2

Google’s current plan to get back into the tablet game might take an unexpected route — 9to5Google reports that the company’s next Nest Hub could feature a detachable screen that doubles as a tablet.

Next-Gen Nest — The future Nest Hub — which might launch as early as this year, according to 9to5Google — could share similarities with Lenovo’s line of smart home-focused tablets.

The Lenovo Smart Tab M10 is a 10-inch Android tablet that can work on its own but can also be docked in a “Smart Charging Station” and take the place of a smart home display by using Google Assitant Ambient Mode. It’s not exactly the same as a Nest Hub, but it offers all the functionality of Google Assistant, with screen-filling graphics to keep users up-to-date on all the topics they care about.

Google Assistant Ambient Mode turns a tablet or phone into a smart home display.Lenovo

Google’s take on this kind of tablet experience could differ in one important way, according to the report. The dock the tablet sits in might use speakers similar to what’s already in the Nest Hub. Given how often Google’s Nest products are used as Spotify speakers first and foremost, that makes a certain kind of sense. Why give up room-filling sound?

The future of computing — The current 2nd-generation Nest Hub and the Nest Hub Max both run on Google Cast (similar to the system that powers basic Chromecasts), and Google updated the first-generation Nest Hub to its mysterious Fuschia OS. Both operating systems are limited in major ways, which really just leaves Android as a prospect for the new Nest Hub. A scary prospect, given the fallen state of Android tablets.

Luckily, Android 12L is set to improve the mobile operating for foldable and big screen devices, and Google’s been refocusing on Android tablets as of late, even referring to them as “the future of computing” in job postings earlier this year.

Maybe an unconventional tablet is just the thing to show the company can make up for past Pixel-branded embarrassments?