The Google I/O three-day annual developer event in San Francisco today kicked off with a slew of product news.
Google is expanding its Nexus sub-brand of smart products from an Android phone (with Samsung, unveiled in October) to a streaming media player and the product that garnered the most buzz today: its first tablet, Nexus 7, a 7-inch device co-developed with Asus.
Nexus 7 is a bigger challenge to Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire than it is to Apple's iPad. The tablet costs $199 (8GB) or $249 (16GB) and is available to purchase now, with shipping starting in July.
Google describes the Nexus Tablet as “a powerful new tablet with a vibrant, 7” 1280x800 HD display. The Tegra-3 chipset, with a quad-core CPU and 12-core GPU, makes everything, including games, extremely fast. And best of all, it’s only 340 grams, lighter than most tablets out there. Nexus 7 was built to bring you the best of Google in the palm of your hand.”
Today, Google revealed another key product in its growing Nexus family of "simple, beautiful and beyond smart" devices: the $299 Nexus Q, a small sphere-shaped Android-powered computer that streams entertainment from the cloud to your living room via Google Play and YouTube apps.
The social streaming music player (which sells for $299) hooks up to Android phones or tablets and is operated by an app — “no downloads, no syncing, no running out of space. Just the stuff you love — at home and out loud.” Interestingly, it's made in America.
This I/O event coincides with the first anniversary of Google+, which Google celebrated in a video starring high-profile users including Richard Branson:
G+ now boasts more than 250 million accounts — 150 million of which are active every month, for an average of 12 minutes daily. “We now have more users engaging with Google+ from mobile than desktop. That’s a significant situation, and we take it seriously,” said Google’s Vic Gundotra, SVP of Social Business, who wrote a blog post on the social platform's first year.
At the I/O conference, Gundotra explained that “Google+ was not comparable to other competing social platforms because, in the overall scheme of Google, all its different products, and particularly YouTube, Gmail and Google+ really constituted a ‘social graph’- one that would create an entire Google experience. So “it’s not Google+, it’s Google.” One can see that the thrust is to create a unifying social strategy that bundles together all Google’s products.”
The brand also pitched developers on Google+ Events as a new way to "celebrate what matters, with the people who matter the most."
Also released today, a new version of Android called Jelly Bean that builds on Android 4.0 (a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich), delivering a new user interface, faster, more natural Voice Search, more dynamic notifications and a smarter, more accurate keyboard that predicts your next word.
The Google Now feature “gets you just the right information at just the right time. It tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, or your favorite team's score as they’re playing. There’s no digging required: cards appear at the moment you need them most.”
Google Earth has been enhanced with 3D imagery of entire metropolitan areas, including suggested landmarks and natural wonders to check out:
Google Play now boasts more than 600,000 apps, games, music, movies and books, entirely cloud-based, and now includes magazines such as House Beautiful, Men’s Health, Shape and Wired. Users can rent or purchase movies and thousands of television shows.
And perhaps coolest of all, Google released this unique mid-air demo of Project Glass, with co-founder Sergey Brin revealing the $1500 Project Glass Explorer Edition while skydiving: