At its Google I/O developer conference, Google unveiled new features in Android 4.1, showed off a Nexus 7 tablet geared toward media play and introduced an entirely new product, the Nexus Q home media hub.
Google wowed application developers at its
Google I/O conference in San Francisco June 27 by introducing what it called an
entirely new consumer electronics product, Nexus Q, a small bowling-ball-shaped
media hub for the home controlled by an Android tablet or smartphone.
Nexus Q was a surprise announcement that
followed anticipated introductions of the Nexus 7 tablet, to be manufactured by
Asus, and multiple improvements to the Android 4.1 operating system, dubbed Jelly
Bean, the successor to Android 4.0, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich.
Enhancements to Jelly Bean include improved
performance, added search capabilities, a more flexible way to arrange
application icons on the home screen, voice typing that can be done offline and
an improved notifications interface that lets users respond to calendar
reminders, emails and texts without having to open each of those applications.
Both the Nexus 7 and Nexus Q are media-focused,
offering users access to TV shows, movies, magazines and other content through
Google Play, the companys online media store.
Nexus Q is a small Android-powered computer
thats designed to live in your home, said Android engineer Joe Britt.
He said Nexus Q will connect to a home entertainment centers TV and speakers
and goes to the cloud to deliver content acquired from Google Play. Google will
sell for $299, is taking preorders now through Google Play and will begin
shipping the device in mid-July.
The device can be controlled by an Android
smartphone or tablet, but the content is not streamed through those devices,
but from the cloud through the Nexus Q to the home entertainment system. Around
the equator, if you will, of the ball is a tiny LED band that pulses along with
the music being played.
The Nexus Q unveiling followed the
introduction of the Nexus 7, a 7-inch screen tablet that will come with Jelly
Bean installed. It will be powered by a Tegra 3 chipset from Nvidia, will
deliver 16-core processing capabilities and features a battery that lasts
for up to nine hours playing video, said Hugo Barra, director of Android
product management at Google. It also will be available in mid-July at a list
price of $199, including a $25 credit for buying content from Google Play.
The conference is intended to give developers
training to create software applications that will be optimized to run in
Android 4.1. Google I/O, which runs June 27 to 29, caps a trifecta of developer
events in San Francisco for the three most competitive mobile operating systems
in the business, following the Apple
Worldwide Developers Conference from June 11 to 15, where details of the
new Apple iOS 6 were revealed, and the Microsoft Windows
Phone Summit on June 20, where details of the coming Windows Phone 8 OS
Robert Mullins is a freelance writer for eWEEK who has covered the technology industry in Silicon Valley for more than a decade. He has written for several tech publications including Network Computing, Information Week, Network World and various TechTarget titles. Mullins also served as a correspondent in the San Francisco Bureau of IDG News Service and, before that, covered technology news for the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal. Back in his home state of Wisconsin, Robert worked as the news director for NPR stations in Milwaukee and LaCrosse in the 1980s.