June 27, 2012

Google unveils Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q media player

Google introduced a new tablet computer and a media player Wednesday, expanding its hardware business exposure in hopes of competing more directly with Amazon's Kindle Fire, Apple's iPad and other popular tablets.

Unveiled at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco, the 7-inch Google Nexus 7 tablet was developed jointly with Taiwan-based manufacturer Asus and will have a 1280 x 800 HD display, a Tegra 3 processor, a front-facing camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a Near Field communication (NFC) chip and up to nine hours of video playback.

It'll run Google's latest Android mobile operating system software — 4.1, or Jelly Bean — that was also introduced today.

"We want things to be simple, beautiful and really smart," said Hugo Barra, Google's director of product management.

Priced at $199, the tablet will be sold on Google's app store, Google Play, starting today and will start shipping in mid-July. An order comes with a $25 credit to spend in Google Play and free movies and magazines.

Google also unveiled the Nexus Q, a small Android-powered media player that plugs into speakers and TVs at home to stream songs and movies stored in the cloud, including YouTube. Priced at $299, "the cloud-connected jukebox" adds a social component because your friends can play their songs, movies and videos saved on Google Play at your home.

The 4.6-inch sphere can be ordered starting today on Google Play and will ship starting in mid-July.

Other Google announcements today:

•New operating system. Jelly Bean will available in mid-July for the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S phones, as well as the Nexus 7 and Motorola Xoom tablets. Hugo Barra, Google's director of product management, says the voice-recognition feature in Jelly Bean will not need an Internet connection to work.

•Google Now. A software feature in Jelly Bean that may raise questions for privacy advocates, Google Now uses search history, location and the calendar to alert users about pertinent information, including events, places of interest, faster travel routes and sports scores for favorite teams.

•Google+ app. The struggling social-network site is available today as an Android app. The iPad app will be available in the near future. More people use Google+ on mobile than on desktop, says Vic Gundotra, the company's senior vice president of social business.

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