It’s easy to forget that the Pixel brand includes more than phones. Back before the name was synonymous with Google’s handsets, the Pixel C was the best Android tablet money could buy, but it hasn’t done a whole lot to live up to the Pixel name. That’s changing with the latest 7.1.2 Nougat beta.
Most notably, the new update brings the Pixel phone’s launcher and navigation buttons to the big screen. That means you’ll access your apps by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, and the search widget on the home screen is a smaller “G” that’s pinned to the left side of the screen. Additionally, the folders adopt the phone’s way of displaying icons, showing them as if you were looking through a circular window.
There’s also a change to the on-screen navigation buttons. Instead of the outlined buttons, they’re now filled in to match the ones on the Pixel phone. However, there’s no ring around the home button, since Google hasn’t yet brought Assistant to tablets.
One area where the Pixel C departs from the phones is with the multitasking interface. Instead of the stacked cards system that occupied the center of the screen, there is now a grid of your eight most recently used apps. You can tap to launch one of them full-screen, or drag one to the side of the screen to activate the multi-window interface. Once an app is pinned, the remaining screens will resize to fit alongside it.
Pixel power: We were beginning to think Apple forgot about the Pixel C, so this is certainly a surprise. It’s nice to see the Pixel brand getting some homogeneity, but we’re most interested in the new multitasking interface. If Android tablets are ever going to succeed, it’s going to take things like this—features designed specifically for the big screen. We just hope Google keeps them coming.