Motorola appears to be working on its first tablet in more than five years. Android Police reports that a 9-to-10-inch tablet with a “premium look and feel” is in development, and the site published a single photo of the device’s screen as evidence.
The photo isn’t very revealing, but it does show that the tablet will have a version of the multitasking features introduced on the Yoga Book, made by Motorola parent company Lenovo. The feature, called “productivity mode,” allows apps to be run side by side, with still-running apps being displayed in the black strip at the bottom of the screen beside Android’s navigation buttons. It essentially turns that area into a dock, which is a smart way to take advantage of the extra screen space.
It’s a little surprising to see Motorola step back into the tablet market after so much time away. The tablet market as a whole hasn’t been performing well, and Android tablets have never been in particularly good shape. With Apple releasing a $329 iPad just over a month ago, breaking in is only going to get harder.
But there is one area of the tablet market that’s growing: research firm IDC says that “detachables” — tablets like the iPad Pro that have first-party removable keyboards — are increasing in shipments even though traditional tablets are losing popularity. Between the large screen, productivity features, and reported premium feel, it’s entirely possible Motorola is going to shoot for this market with its new device.
Getting back into tablets is probably a bit easier for Motorola now, too. Lenovo hasn’t left the Android tablet space, and, in fact, it introduced one very compelling option just last year. Bringing together Motorola’s design sense with Lenovo’s existing engineering certainly sounds promising. Though it’s still hard to imagine they can solve the problems that regularly plague Android tablets.