Back in June 2023, I gave Google’s new Pixel Tablet the full review treatment and came away very impressed with its balancing act doing double duty as a standalone tablet and a docked smart home device. Versatility is the Google Pixel Tablet’s ultimate strength and the more I used it, the more I realized you can do a whole lot more with the device including some things I didn’t mention in my initial review.
What can you do with the Pixel Tablet?
So new Google Pixel Tablet owners and potential future users, here’s the low-down on the things you can do with this $699 CAD tablet and dock combo.
Customizing Pixel Tablet
Just a little reminder for folks who might be familiar with Google’s past efforts in building a tablet; the Google Pixel Tablet runs Android 13 and not Chrome OS. This means you get the full customization benefits stock Android offers along with a couple of Pixel-specific features providing you stick with the tablet’s default Pixel Launcher. Like any Android tablet, you can see just how customizable your Pixel Tablet is by taking a trip to the “Settings” app.
Watch my video review of Google Pixel Tablet
Use Google Assistant for Anything
Google Assistant is more than 7 years old and Google continues to develop the virtual assistant as more people rely on AI and chatbots for quick information. The Google Pixel Tablet 2023 offers numerous ways to call up the assistant so you can get quick access to things like weather reports, news updates, recommendations, carry out tablet operations, issue smart home commands, and other things.
To customize Google Assistant to your liking, open the “Settings” app, go to “Apps” followed by “Assistant” to customize the ways you can bring up Google Assistant. For instance, you can open it by pressing and holding the power button or using the voice command “Hey Google” to summon the assistant as if you are talking to a Google Nest Hub if you enable the option. Once you see that bottom bar, voice out the prompt and let the Google Assistant do its thing!
Control Smart Home Devices
If you know all the names and commands of your Google Home-supported smart home devices, you should be able to control these devices straight from Google Assistant. But if you prefer getting a visual of your smart home constellation, you can do so by docking the Pixel Tablet to the speaker dock. This will bring up the “Hub Mode” where you can tap the “Home” button on the lower left and see your smart devices grouped up in categories such as lighting and cameras. This Home section also lists any devices you set as favorites so you can quickly do adjustments like changing a light’s brightness, tinkering with your smart thermostat, or checking on your front door’s camera.
Send Emails and Texts
Naturally, Google pre-installed Gmail in the Pixel Tablet allowing you to send emails from any Google account you linked to the tablet. The Pixel Tablet does not have a SIM card slot so while you cannot send any SMS, you can still use the Google Messages app to send RCS chats. Using Google Messages on the Pixel feels a lot like the web version, although this could change in future updates.
Create a Smart Home Hub
The moment you first magnetically attach the Pixel Tablet to the included speaker dock and plugged the dock to the power outlet, Android will take you through a quick setup procedure in setting up your smart hub. You can pick your screen saver, set your primary Google account, add the dock to your smart home, and configure Google Assistant to work to your liking. Once finished, configuring the smart home hub is very straightforward.
Change Wallpapers and Widgets
Long pressing an empty space in the home screen brings up a convenient popup menu where you can change the wallpaper, add or remove widgets, or change the home screen settings. Long-pressing on a widget allows you to customize that particular widget so you can see the other Pixel-exclusive widgets.
How To Add Users to Google Pixel Tablet
Unlike some Android tablets, the Google Pixel Tablet 2023 allows you to add additional users so they can have their own personalized screens. Just fire up the “Settings” app and go to “System” followed by “Multiple users.” Then enable the “Add users from lock screen” option. Go to the lock screen and tap the profile icon and from there you may add, remove, update, or switch users and give each user various permissions so you can, for instance, add a child account governed by parental controls you can apply.
Use Split Window to Multitask
The Google Pixel Tablet’s 10.95-inch display is large enough to run two apps side by side. You may bring up this multitasking feature by opening one of the apps you wish to use and then swiping up from the bottom and hold until the app slightly zooms out revealing previews of your recent apps. Tap the “Split” option and choose your second app to open on the other half of the screen. You can swap one of the open apps with another by repeating the bottom swipe gesture and pick another app from the dock.
Just about all existing and recently updated apps on the Google Play Store should work with the Google-Pixel Tablet. However, many apps scale poorly on the big screen so your user experience may vary. Android’s tablet-optimized app ecosystem still lags behind iOS’s but you can at least filter the app selection by heading to the Tablet section of the Google Play Store. Google also made a recent update in the Android Developers Blog promising to make it easier to find Android apps for bigger screens which is certainly a step in the right direction.
How to Play Music with Speaker Dock on Pixel Tablet
The Hub Mode setup process of google-pixel tablet also involves choosing your default music service where you can use Google Assistant to play back a song from a particular artist and the docked Pixel Tablet will immediately play the track with the music coming out of the dock. Unlike Amazon’s Echo Show smart home assistants, the Pixel Tablet supports YouTube Music as well!
Video and Phone Casting
Like some TVs running the Google TV or Android TV operating system, the Pixel Tablet has Chromecast functionality baked right in! This means you can open an app supporting Chromecast such as YouTube and beam the footage directly to the Pixel Tablet screen and continue watching from there! The best part? You don’t even need an Android phone to take advantage of this as the YouTube app in iOS supports casting. The feature goes both ways too as you can cast the Pixel Tablet screen to a Chromecast or Android TV.
Use Google Meet
Google’s video communication service Google Meet works with just about any Android device but the Pixel Tablet is one of the several in-house apps designed to take advantage of the tablet’s HD camera and Tensor G2 chip. Try to initiate a Google Meet call with another user and you’ll notice how the app will automatically adjust the lighting to what the camera sees and keep you on the center of the frame. You can optionally add cool 360-degree backgrounds too if you want to jazz things up. Google Workspace users should definitely get a kick out of these video quality improvements!
Make Video Calls with Zoom
Of course not everyone has Google Meet and if your friends and colleagues prefer a more popular platform like Zoom, you can easily switch to that by simply downloading Zoom from the Google Play Store. Video calls look just fine with the tablet’s 8-megapixel 1080p front-facing camera.
If you don’t have one of those cool Google Pixel smartphones, you can leave it to the Pixel Tablet to scratch that Magic Eraser itch! Magic Eraser is a Pixel-exclusive feature that harnesses the Tensor chip and the Google Photos app to remove objects you don’t want in a picture. It’s not a perfect tool but when it works, it’s amazing just how quickly it works in just a single step! Several other nifty photo editing tricks are available too for the Pixel Tablet and other Pixel devices including the ability to unblur photos.
Read News and Books
The Pixel Tablet’s aspect ratio isn’t quite ideal for reading books in portrait orientation but it shouldn’t stop you from doing an occasional read via the Books section of the Google Play Store. You can keep track of the latest news updates via Google News or your favorite newsreader app. The fairly high-resolution 1600 × 2560 display is decent for reading in short bursts.
Watch Videos on Prime Video, YouTube, or Google TV
If you love binge-watching on YouTube or have a big movies and TV collection on Google Play, the Google Tablet pixel and its included speaker dock is one of the best devices for consuming that type of content. Being an Android tablet, you can install Amazon Prime Video or any other streaming service without worry. No locked ecosystems or walled gardens here!
What’s next for Google?
Google still has a lot of work to do in convincing folks to switch to Android for their tablet media consumption needs. But the Google Pixel Tablet represents a refreshing leap forward with its Hub Mode, bundled speaker dock, and tight Google Assistant integration. The best way to stomach that $499US/699 CAD price tag is to really put its many features to good use. Shop one from Google’s online store or at Amazon.