While tablets aren’t nearly as popular as they once were, I love my iPad Pro and get a lot of use out of it. I use it as a second screen for the football when I’m gaming or my wife is watching something on the TV; it’s brilliant for watching TV shows and movies in bed or on the train, particularly when combined with the AirPods Max; I use it for signing documents far more often than you might imagine; and it’s great as a wireless second screen for my MacBook.
The place I most often use my iPad, though, is the kitchen, and this is arguably where it’s least comfortable.
There are three main issues. The first is that the Magic Keyboard, which is generally a thing of genius and elegance, rather gets in the way when chopping veg and the like, and I worry about covering the keys – which are less easily wiped clean than the screen – with bits of crushed garlic or an errant blob of tomato puree (yes, I am a messy chef). I could get a different stand for the kitchen but I’ve not really got the appetite (see what I did there?) to constantly swap cases.
Second, if I’m not using the iPad to follow an actual recipe, I’m probably using it to watch the football or F1, and then, on top of the existing mess issue, I’m also stuck using the iPad’s built-in speakers for the audio, particularly as Sky Go doesn’t allow you to output the sound to a separate device. The iPad Pro sounds very good indeed by tablet standards, but it’s not like using a dedicated wireless speaker.
Third on my list of first-world iPad-related kitchen problems is that Siri still isn’t a great virtual assistant. Yes, it can handle the basics, but I find myself turning to Alexa (via a Sonos One) for my complex cooking questions even when the iPad is right in front of me, particularly as Siri often says “here’s something I found on the web” and puts it on the screen that I was already using for something else and that I don’t want to touch because my hands are covered in marinade.
None of these niggles prevents me from using the iPad in the kitchen, but it would be lovely if Apple fixed them. Except now it doesn't have to because Google already has, and the solution is really very simple.
The new Google Pixel Tablet comes bundled with a Charging Speaker Dock that acts as a stand, a charger and a speaker for the tablet, essentially turning it into a smart speaker with a screen, rather like the Amazon Echo Show 10 but still with the full functionality of an Android tablet.
It gives the Pixel Tablet a much less obtrusive footprint than the iPad’s Magic Keyboard, it should sound significantly better than a tablet alone, and it will have all of the smarts of a Google Nest speaker. And, unlike a device such as the Echo Show, the Pixel Tablet can of course be undocked and used as a standard tablet around and outside the house.
So, will I be buying a Pixel Tablet? I’m certainly tempted but it will ultimately depend on whether the Charging Speaker Dock works as well as suggested and how the tablet performs as an actual tablet, particularly in terms of picture and sound quality.
It will also depend on whether Apple mercilessly rips off the idea and produces its own speaker dock for the iPad. That would be fine by me, too.
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