Google I/O 2023 was pretty great and I'm not afraid to admit it

Google Pixel Fold
(Image credit: Google)

So Google I/O 2023's big keynote saw the company announce a raft of new products, both software and hardware. Much of what we saw had already been leaked into oblivion, but that didn't make it any less interesting.

In fact, some of what Google showed off almost made me wish that I liked using Android because, frankly, there were some ideas that Apple should have come up with first. Maybe it will steal some of them, who knows?

There was of course the continued poking fun of Apple for its lack of RCS messaging support, but beyond that somewhat cringeworthy chunk of the event, there was a lot to like — and I'm not afraid to admit it.

Foldable phones? Yes please!

At this point, the idea of Apple shipping a foldable iPhone is something that I've almost given up on. Sure, they still aren't perfect, and while the Pixel Fold is thinner than other mainstream foldables it does have its problems. But wouldn't it be great to have an iPhone 15 that opened up into an iPad mini? I'd buy that so fast I'm unsure my wallet could keep up.

Yes, the Pixel Fold's crease is still there and that's something we're going to have to live with for a while, but so what? Products are always full of compromises and that's one I'm willing to make. Bring it on, I say. Let me bend that iPad in half.

I've no interest in something like a foldable flip phone, honestly. Taking an iPhone 14 Pro Max and making it half the size is cool but it doesn't add functionality. Folding an iPad in half and making it an iPhone? Now that's a different story altogether. To me, the best iPad would be one that would fit in my pocket. I'm sure it'll happen eventually. Right?

But the foldable Pixel isn't the only thing I wish there was an Apple analog for.

A tablet done right

Given the state of the Android tablet market and app ecosystem, you might be surprised to read me wishing that Apple would borrow something from the Pixel Tablet. Frankly, I would be as well if it wasn't for one particular aspect of that thing that just makes sense. So much sense, I'd pay actual money for it.

Just maybe not enough sense for me to use Android.

I'm talking about the fact that each and every Pixel Tablet sold also comes with a dock of sorts. That dock has a speaker built in to create something similar to a HomePod. But where things get interesting is the fact that the dock is magnetic and what that actually means for how it can be used.

The result? A base station for you to slap your tablet when you aren't using it. It charges the thing, sure, and it also gives you a smart speaker as a bonus. But it also turns the thing into a smart home controller as well. And a screen-based digital assistant. All in one unit that can be undocked and used as a tablet when you want to kick back and do whatever it is people do with Android tablets.

Now imagine, if you will, something like that in the Apple ecosystem. You'd have the HomePod speaker magic but without the Siri smarts or antennas inside. It'd be magnetic and you could put your iPad on it. The iPad would charge, obviously. But whenever docked the iPad would display either a new Home Screen or just the Home app. Everything is within reach and easily accessed. And because it's a big screen, you won't have to rely on using Siri which, if we're being honest, is a very good thing indeed.

I'd buy that. Maybe not as quickly as a foldable iPhone, but still.

Alas, Android

But as interesting as all of that is, it simply doesn't exist. Not in the Apple world at least. And as much as it sounds like something I'd buy, I won't. Because, Android.

I'm too ensconced in the Apple ecosystem and so is my family. It's just not happening, and Apple knows it.

Maybe there's something to that walled garden after all.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.