After months of rumors and intense speculation, Google finally took the wraps off its super slick, hi-res, second-generation Nexus 7 tablet, and also highlighted some exciting features of the new Android 4.3 operating system.
In a press briefing in San Francisco today, Android and Chrome head Sundar Pichai, who replaced Andy Rubin as Android head in March, talked of the multi-screen world, promoting both Android and Chrome as fulfilling all consumers computing needs, and laid out what the event would be tackling.
“Today we’re going to talk about two things – a new device from Android to address explosive growth in tablets and a second device from Chrome for a uniform experience across all devices.”
But before Pichai went onto detail the new Android device – the much-anticipated new Nexus 7 tablet – he laid down a marker for not just how big tablets are, but for how many of these devices are running Android.
“By the end of 2013, consumers will be buying more tablets than personal PCs. It’s a pretty amazing time.
“At the end of 2012 Android activations were approaching 10 million but you can see how that color has changed,” said the Google exec, referring to a company slide on growing activations. “There will be 70 million Android tablet activations by the end of 2013 and almost one in two tablets sold worldwide are based on Android.”
After further mentions of the Nexus 7 accounting for more than 10% of sold Android tablets and that the Android slate was the most popular tablet in Japan over the holidays, Pichai announced the second-generation model and handed over to Hugo Barra.
Barra promoted this latest model as being a “more comfortable and powerful” version which was 2mm thinner, 50g lighter, and with bezels that are 3mm slimmer on each side.
“You’ll notice the improvements right away,” said Barra, who is vice president of Android product management.
The new Nexus 7 has a killer display
The Google exec went onto extoll the benefits of the black rear and a “few glossy features” but then went onto the tablet’s killer feature – the 7-inch 1920 x 1200 display which offers a pixel density of 323 pixels per inch (for some context: the original Nexus 7 was 216ppi and the current iPad is 264ppi).
Barra said that text looks sharper than a print magazine and added that the screen will allow users to watch HD movies and TV shows. He added that the screen would support a 30% wider range of colors.
The display wasn’t the only impressive new feature on show – Google promoted the Franhofer music compression technology which apparently offers virtual surround sound, and said that the 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.8GHz processor has a CPU that is 80% faster than predecessors and a GPU that is four times faster than rival chipsets.
Keeping with the hardware, Barra revealed that the new Nexus 7 boasts a HDMI output, support for NFC and a battery life which lasts for up to 10 hours when browsing and eReading.
4G LTE support will also be offered and through various providers including AT&T and Verizon.
The search giant didn’t forget about software though and also introduced the latest iteration of Android – Android 4.3 – and said that the operating system will debut on the new Nexus 7.
Barra detailed that Android, which will also come to other Nexus and some Galaxy devices shortly, will come with some handy new features including the opportunity for users to customize ‘restricted profiles’.
This will essentially enable users to restrict some app features for their children or other family members, although Google’s Barra also spoke of how it could be used for companies with “retail kiosk or POS systems”. Google first introduced multi-user support on Android 4.2.
The new Nexus 7 tablet is to launch – as expected -- on July 30 and will be priced at $229 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, $269 for the 32GB edition and $349 for the same-sized LTE tablet.
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