When Google released the Nexus 7 back in 2012, they did a whole lot more than simply give us a stock Android tablet that was incredibly good value at a low, low price. More than that, Google inspired faith in Android on tablets, by putting their own hardware into the game, Google was effectively saying "Android on tablets can work, and here's how we think it will work". Since the Nexus 7 has launched, Android tablets have been taken a lot more seriously, and we've been able to buy decent 7-inch tablets, that are light, portable and run our existing apps with little to no issues. If anyone still thinks that the Nexus 7 is just an experiment of Google's, then all they need to do is head to their local Apple store and see an iPad Mini on sale. The company that once said 7-inch tablets were useless, now has one of their own to sell you, something that wouldn't have been on shelves at all if it weren't for the Nexus 7.
So, when they launched the Nexus 10 alongside the Nexus 4, we all thought that Google was going to do the same for 10-inch tablets. The Nexus 10 was a stunning piece of hardware, and even today it holds its own, if you can live with a few performance hiccups here and there. The 2560 x 1600 display was - and still is - amazing, it should have given Apple something to worry about as there was now an Android tablet that could give the iPad a run for its money. All of that was wishful thinking however, as the Nexus 10 was more of a step back for Google when it comes to tablets, rather than a step forward.
The UI changes in Android 4.2 for tablets made 10-inchers seem like giant phones all over again. The UI that debuted with Honeycomb was far from perfect, but to throw it out all together was foolish. Many of you will disagree with me here, but the original Android tablet UI made much better use of these larger displays and yes, everything felt a little Desktoppy, but that was a good thing in my eyes. With Android tablets feeling almost Desktop-like, there was great potential for developers to put real effort into creating great tablet apps and setting up your Motorola XOOM with a mouse and keyboard didn't feel entirely crazy. By giving the Nexus 10 and all other tablets running Android 4.2 and above, Google almost made it okay again for developers to ignore tablets. The Nexus 7 (and other similarly sized devices) run phone apps just fine, they can look a little janky, but for the most part, people don't notice all that much. That's very much the opposite for larger tablets.
Changing the UI to be like that of phones and 7-inch tablets did make sense in one way though, it gave all Android tablets a sense of uniformity. That's a great touch of course, as users can go to any screen size and get around Android just fine, without having to adjust how they're doing things. However, this is a double-edged sword for Google, as larger tablets can feel like overgrown smartphones now, far more than they did before Android 4.2. I can only imagine what it's like to use a Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, at that size navigating Android must be a real pain.
The biggest way Google has let down Android tablets however, is by not releasing another Nexus 10. Last Summer, Google announced the new Nexus 7 and it was amazing, especially at that price. With a refined design that looked a whole better, a faster processor and a stunning screen, Google wasn't pulling any punches against rivals like Amazon and Apple. So, once again, with renewed vigor, Google put their weight behind 7-inch tablets. They left 10-inchers out in the cold though, as they completely ignored the Nexus 10. I'm not saying that Google absolutely has to release a new device every single year, but a new Nexus 10 would have sent a similar signal to developers and customers, that Android is great on 10-inch tablets as well. Without a new Nexus 10 however, it's almost as if Google was acknowledging that Android was better suited to smaller displays.
There are a lot of Nexus 10 and 10-inch tablet owners out there that love their devices. I myself, have a G Pad 8.3 as I enjoy the extra screen space without sacrificing portability. I'm sure there are times when you feel like an app looks horrific on such a large display, it's a jarring experience and Google should be doing something about it and I hope that this year they do. Releasing new hardware is certainly not the only answer, but it's one that will encourage developers to make better Android apps and make consumers think a little harder when they go to buy a new 10-inch tablet.