Google unveils Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Q media player and £159 Nexus 7 tablet
Google’s annual I/O conference kicked off yesterday with some big announcements for its Android mobile OS, including the official unveiling of the Nexus 7 tablet and Android 4.1 plus a surprise in the form of the unusual Nexus Q.
The Nexus Q is a surprising addition to Google’s hardware stable. This very unusual globe shaped gadget allows you to stream media from Android tablets and smartphones into your TV or stereo, but introduces a social aspect by allowing others to add their content to the playlist. It does require some kind of Android device to function, though the Q contains its own processor, runs Android 4.0 and Google is encouraging hacking to expand its capabilities.
Android Jelly Bean was confirmed as Android 4.1 and it turns out there’s a little more to it than just an incremental update. Its big new feature is Google Now, an app which keeps track of your location and preferences then bundles together real-time info it thinks you might find useful. So it could see you’re on your way to work and give weather and traffic data, or keep you updated on sports games.
The notification bar has been tweaked so it can now display more information, such as the subject lines of emails, and streamlines things by allowing you to reply to missed calls directly. Voice control was given a makeover too so it’s now more accurate and, most importantly, functions without a data connection by processing the commands locally. Google has also been working on ‘Project Butter’, an attempt to improve the performance of the Android UI, smoothing out screen transitions.
The first device to feature Jelly Bean will be the Nexus 7 tablet. As per the leak on Monday this 7-inch tablet has a quad core Tegra 3 processor, 1280 x 800 resolution display and will come packaged with the Chrome browser, which has just today come out of beta.
But the biggest feature is an astoundingly low price tag. The Nexus 7 starts at just £159 for 8GB memory, going up to £199 for the 16GB model.
That’s an incredibly low cost for a quad-core device and could be a real game changer for Android tablets. Sub-£200 Android tablets have typically been cheap and nasty but this is a high quality slate that’s going to put real pressure on everyone from the Asian factories pumping out basic tablets right up to Apple.
Amazon faces a challenge too. The Kindle Fire will struggle to be as competitive and even the Kindle ebook reader doesn’t seem quite as good value in comparison.
Pre-orders are open right now, with £15 free Google Play credit for early shoppers.