The Pixel C is the first tablet ever designed by Google itself, and with its keyboard attachment could have demonstrated Android's potential as an operating system for productivity. Problem is, the software just isn't there yet, with a dearth of optimized apps and little consideration for multitasking. The team behind the tablet is aware of the concerns, though, and used a Reddit AMA to discuss how things may improve in the future.
"We're working hard on a range of enhancements for Android in this form factor," says Android and Chrome UX director Glen Murphy. "There are many things, like multi-window, that we've been spending a lot of time on — hopefully we can share more about this soon." It sounds like we'll have to wait til Android's next major "N" revision to see multitasking improvements, however. "We're working on lots of things right now for N that, of course, we wish we had, you know, yesterday," says consumer hardware director Andrew Bowers. "But we'd spoil the surprise of N if we shared all of them. Split screen is in the works!"
"We think a key driver is awesome hardware."
While there have been Windows tablets that let you put two apps on a screen at once ever since Microsoft released Windows 8 in 2012, and Apple added similar functionality to iPads running iOS 9 this year, Google is yet to provide native Android support for the feature. Some Android device manufacturers, like Samsung, have layered their own multitasking system on top of Google's OS, but app support has been lacking.
Multitasking aside, app support has also been lacking when it comes to Android tablets in general, with many developers using automatic layouts to blow up their phone UIs to a larger screen. "We're spending a lot of time working with developers to get better and more awesome tablet apps," says Murphy. "But it is definitely a chicken-egg problem, and we think a key driver is awesome hardware, like the Pixel C." With the device's mixed reception, however, it's clear that Google itself hasn't quite done enough to support it on the software side — the company will be expected to make major tablet improvements with Android N.