Google is planning a 7-inch tablet computer that will be built by Huawei and offered for sale by the end of 2016, according to a Twitter post by well-known IT tipster Evan Blass.
“Google’s Huawei-built 7-inch tablet, with 4GB RAM, on track for release before the end of the year,” Blass wrote in the recent post, which lacked any additional details. Google’s last 7-inch Android tablet was the Nexus 7. Blass’ Twitter handle is @evleaks.
The rumored machine could be announced by Google in October, when several other announcements are expected, including the first Google Daydream VR headset, a new Chromecast dongle and two new smartphones that have also been the subject of rumors.
The two smartphone models, which are apparently being designed by Google itself rather than by third-party manufacturers, have been rumored since June, according to an earlier eWEEK story. By directly designing the devices, Google could have more control and oversight of its hugely popular Android mobile operating system, which could help it take on Apple more directly in the smartphone wars, the story reported.
Google has offered Android handsets in the past through arrangements with manufacturers such as HTC, Huawei and others, but those handsets were designed by those companies and carried Google Nexus nameplates, without Google’s own designs. Google has not previously designed and built its own phones.
Earlier in September, Google suspended one of its other recent smartphone initiatives, its Project Ara smartphone effort, which began in 2013 with the concept of designing a phone platform that would incorporate a wide array of camera, audio and other modules as desired by users. Project Ara was ended as part of an effort to streamline the company’s hardware efforts, even after its progress was touted at Google’s I/O developer conference earlier this year. The company had said at that time that is expected to ship a developer edition of Project Ara this fall.
The Ara phones centered on a baseplate or frame that incorporated a display, CPU, graphics processing unit, sensors and all the functionality of a standard smartphone.
Google was scheduled to release a preview version of Ara this fall in a bid to spur developer interest in the technology and ensure that modules for a wide range of applications would be available for the smartphone at launch. Organizations that were working with Google in developing modules for Ara included Samsung and Sony. Among the modules that Google was working on was one that would integrate the functions of a glucometer so people with diabetes could measure their glucose levels using their smartphones.
In March, a Google Nexus handset, the Nexus 5X, debuted as the second phone being sold for use with Google’s Project Fi mobile phone services, which start at $20 a month. The Nexus 5X smartphone is made by LG for use with Google’s Project Fi inexpensive monthly wireless service plans. The Nexus 5X is priced at $349 for a 16GB model or $399 for a 32GB model.
Project Fi is Google’s inexpensive mobile phone service that came out in April 2014 under what was then an invitation-only system. Project Fi phone services recently opened to all users who buy or provide a compatible Nexus smartphone that will work with the service. So far, the Nexus 6P by Huawei, the new Nexus 5X and the earlier Nexus 6 are the only three smartphones that will work with Project Fi’s network. Users pay $20 per month for cellular access, plus data fees of $10 per GB only for the data that is consumed each month. The monthly access fee also includes unlimited talk and texting, WiFi tethering and international coverage in more than 120 countries.