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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Google unveils Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q home entertainment device, and Jelly Bean

27

June

googletablet.jpgBy Michael Liedtke, AP Technology Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — Google will sell a small tablet computer bearing its brand in a challenge to Amazon's Kindle Fire.

The Nexus 7 is designed specifically for Google Play, the online store that sells movies, music, books, apps and other content — the things Amazon.com Inc. also sells for its tablet computer.

Both tablets have screens that measure 7 inches diagonally, smaller than the nearly 10 inches on Apple Inc.'s popular iPad. The Nexus 7 will also be light — at about 0.75 pound, compared with the Kindle Fire's 0.9 pound. The iPad weighs 1.44 pounds.

The Nexus 7 will ship in mid-July starting at $199 — the same price as the Kindle Fire. By contrast, iPads start at $499. Customers can start ordering it through Google, initially in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

The Nexus 7 has more features than the Kindle, including a front-facing camera. The Kindle is believed to be roughly break even at that price. Samsung Electronics Co. sells a tablet similar to Google's for $250.

The Nexus 7 will run the next version of Google Inc.'s Android operating system, called Jelly Bean.

Google also announced a home entertainment device called Nexus Q. It sends content from your personal collection or YouTube to your existing TV and speaker systems. You control it through a separate Android phone or tablet. The Nexus Q, which Google is calling the world's first "social streaming device," will available in July in the U.S. initially and sell for $299.

Google made the announcements during a keynote to open its annual conference in San Francisco for computer programmers.

Project Glass

Google also demonstrated its futuristic, Internet-connected glasses by having parachutists jump out of a blimp hovering about 7,000 feet above San Francisco. The audience got live video feeds from their glasses as they descended to land on the roof of the Moscone Center, the location of the conference.

Google is making prototypes of the device, known as Project Glass, available to test. They can only be purchased — for $1,500 — at the conference this week, for delivery early next year. Google is also giving all 6,000 attendees a Nexus 7, Nexus Q and Google Nexus phone for free.

Google Plus

At the event, Google provided an update on its Google Plus social network, which the company considers crucial to challenging Facebook Inc. for users and advertising. Google said the year-old social network now has 250 million, far smaller than Facebook's more than 900 million but larger than what Facebook had at the one-year mark.

Google said more people use Google Plus from mobile devices than traditional computers. On Wednesday, it introduced a Google Plus app for Android tablets and said one for the iPad is coming "very soon."

Jelly Bean

Earlier Wednesday, Google unveiled a new search tool to help you get the right information at the right time on your mobile device. Called Google Now, the tool will be part of Jelly Bean, which will be available in mid-July. Some devices, including the Galaxy Nexus, will get the upgrade automatically over the air.

With Google Now, if you say "traffic," for example, it will look at your usual commute to work and show you alternative routes if there's a lot of traffic. It will tell you the scores of your favorite sports teams automatically, and it will keep you up to date on flight statuses if you are flying somewhere. You'll have to activate Google Now to start using it.

Google Inc. said the Google Now feature will get smarter as you use it more.

The feature bears resemblance to the Siri virtual assistant on Apple's iPhone.

Jelly Bean will also come with the ability to share photos by tapping two phones together, using an emerging wireless technology called near-field communications.

AP Photo

Hugo Barra, director of Google Product Management, holds up the new Google Nexus7 tablet at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 4:27pm]

    

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