Amazon’s new Android tablet showcases Google’s “future of computing”

Amazon’s consumer electronics division makes a lot of hardware. I’m sure the strategy is more than trying everything and seeing what sticks, but sometimes it feels that way from the outside. It’s easy for products to get lost in the fray, but one thing shouldn’t happen: the Fire Max 11.

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This is a $229.99 Android tablet with an 11-inch screen (2000 x 1200, 213 PPI) powered by an octa-core MediaTek processor (2x Arm Cortex-A78 up to 2.2 GHz and 6x A55 up to 2 GHz) with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. The battery life is 14 hours and there is a microSD card slot.

For $100 more, you can get a keyboard with a back cover/stand and stylus. The product page advertises using the former with the Microsoft 365 suite of apps (Office – still a stupid rebrand), with productivity clearly taking center stage with the $329.99 model. We can’t comment on quality and performance yet, but on paper this is a compelling product.

In fact, it’s everything Google wanted when it called Android tablets the “future of computing.” The company said:

We believe the future of computing is shifting towards more powerful and capable tablets. We’re working to open the next chapter in computing and input by introducing seamless support across all our platforms and Hero experiences, opening up new and better ways to be productive and creative.

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Google wants to see pen-first applications, but believes that large (touch) screens that aren’t “physically connected to a keyboard” will lead to unforeseen use cases. It has been specifically suggested that tablets could overtake laptop sales, with price undoubtedly being the deciding factor.

On the software side, Google has been optimizing Android since 12L, with work continuing into 13 and 14. Over 50 first-party apps have been updated to support large screens, including foldable screens, which is a day and night difference compared to a few years ago.

In terms of hardware, the Pixel Tablet is coming next month and it offers the best that Google has to offer (except for the camera) in one package. It’s still a long way off, but I don’t think that’s what the company had in mind with Android tablets being the future of computing.

Rather, the Fire Max 11 without the Google Play Store fits that vision better, as it’s incredibly affordable and Amazon naturally has the largest retailer presence. A physical keyboard is still the gold standard for office productivity, and the Pixel tablet doesn’t offer a first-party equivalent. Meanwhile, it still amazes me that Google hasn’t announced an official stylus, instead relying on general USI 2.0 support.

That’s because Google sees the Pixel Tablet as a smart home product and Nest Hub successor. This leaves room for another model. A Pixel Tablet Pro would fit that bill, but much more interesting is an A-series Pixel Tablet, which only offers a good media consumption experience, so with a keyboard accessory it can offer an equally good productivity experience. By shifting to affordability instead of premium, Google is fulfilling its goal of offering Android tablets while fighting Chromebooks so its operating system can run on the successor to laptops.

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The Pixel tablet costs $499. At least an A-series tablet priced at around $349 with a keyboard included would be the best bet.

Thankfully, the Google tablet we’ll soon have is only 49% productivity-centric (and 51% Nest Hub + media consumption device) thanks to streamlined workspace apps. We haven’t seen the company try to create a cheap, big screen that Google Docs runs well on. The Pixel line of A-series phones is pretty good, and I think Google could have a blast with tablets if it really tried.

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