Dozens of companies make tablets powered by Google's Android software. One name, however, has been notably absent: Google. Now, in efforts to reduce "fragmentation" — instances when Android glitches occur because of inconsistencies on different hardware platforms — Google is reportedly building an in-house tablet for release later this year. The move could conceivably be a big win for the web powerhouse, which, like Apple, is uniting hardware and software under one roof to create a more streamlined (read: less buggy) product. Here's what we know so far about Google's official entry into the tablet race:
1. Expect a 7-inch display
Google's as-yet-unnamed tablet will feature a 7-inch screen, says The Verge, putting it in the same size field as Amazon's best-selling Kindle Fire. To make the Google tablet more competitive, the search giant is hoping to make a few last "design changes" so it can lower the current $249 price tag to a more attractive $200, like the Fire. And to compete with Apple, which some reports have hinted is also planning to go small with a 7.85-inch iPad, Google should strike soon, to get a leg up on its Cupertino-based competition.
2. It'll be Wi-Fi only
The tablet is "expected to ship with a quad-core, Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, and Wi-Fi-only connectivity," says David Murphy at PC Mag. Core-wise, this gives Google's tablet an edge over the Kindle Fire and other similar Android tablets. Making it Wi-Fi-only, though, is a "bit of a shock," says Joe Svetlik at CNET. Such a limitation doesn't scream "high-end device."
3. The tablet could be sold — at a Google store?
Rather than selling through traditional outlets, Google will reportedly sell the branded tablets in its own online store. Some analysts see this as a strategic move to eat into Apple's lead, as well as a nod to Amazon's success with selling proprietary hardware on its own website. "Even if Google gains a smallish share of iPad [with the online store], they still get what they need," analyst Jack Gold tells PC World. An online store would give the company a sounding board that few other Android tablet-makers have.
4. It will be available in July
The current version of the tablet was slated to launch in May, but Google "pushed back the planned release so it could tweak the device," says The Verge. Unfortunately, this means that the tablet probably won't run the next version of Android, codenamed Jelly Bean, because that would cause "a much longer delay."