Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Google announces new version of Android, new Nexus 7 tablet and Nexus Q media player at I/O Conference

Engadget reports that Google made several announcements at its Google I/O Conference today:

1) Android 4.1, also called Jelly Bean, will be released in mid-July for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S smartphones, and Motorola Xoom tablets. Other devices may be updated in the future, depending on whether the hardware can support the new operating system, and whether hardware vendors and mobile service providers decide to support it. A number of enhancements have been made to improve performance; the company now claims that the CPU and GPU run in parallel, enabling the user interface to run at 60fps (if the hardware supports it.) The on-screen keyboard has been improved, as has voice input, which now works in both online and offline modes.The design of the home screen has been updated, and it's now easier to add, move and delete apps and widgets. Improvements have also been made to the camera app.

2) Google is now supporting "Smart App Updates" that allow incremental updates instead of requiring entire apps to be replaced. It's also improving encryption in order to make it harder to pirate paid apps.

3) Google announced its new tablet--the Nexus 7--that also runs Android 4.1. There were no surprises--all of the specs and prices had been previously leaked. It's got a 7" 1280 x 800 display, a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM and a 1.2 megapixel front camera, for $199 for the 8GB model and $249 for 16GB. For a limited time, it also comes with a $25 credit for the Google Play content and app store. Its user interface is based on the design of the Google Play store. The Nexus 7 will ship in mid-July.

4) The new Nexus Q is a ball-shaped media streaming device for the living room. It can connect any Android device to a television set or audio/video receiver and stream music and video from the Google Play store, as well as YouTube videos from the cloud. However, it doesn't appear to support services such as Hulu, Netflix or other third-party content providers. It also has its own built-in 25-watt amplifier, so it can be used as a standalone device by connecting speakers to it. According to The New York Times, the Nexus Q is almost entirely manufactured in the U.S. The Nexus Q will be priced at $299 when it ships in mid-July; the price is three times as much as comparable products from Apple, Roku and Vizio, so it's not clear who's Google's target market or why it feels that it can justify such a high price.
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