Everyone is being like Nintendo these days; forgoing the “all in” during big conferences – instead, setting up multiple, smaller conferences and demos regularly spaces throughout the year.
On July 24th, Google presented “Breakfast with Sundar Pichai” to reveal new hardware, software and services. Let’s take a quick look at everything in a nutshell, and we’ll give you our two cents too.
Google made two different hardware announcements during this presentation.
The Nexus 7 is a huge seller and really broke Android into the tablet market proper.
The refreshed model is out July 30th (pre-orders are already going out everywhere) and is 2mm thinner and 50g lighter than the original.
The display gets a big boost; in brightness, color quality and in resolution – up to real 1080p 1900 x 1200.
Under the hood you get double the RAM, a speedy 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 Pro 8064 processor and Adreno 320 GPU (bye bye Tegra).
Along with the 1.2MP front facing camera, people who can’t be bothered to bring a real camera to their kid’s events (but managed to haul their 7″ tablet with them) can shoot photos off the new rear 5MP camera.
Aesthetically we have more bezel – looking to encourage and favor landscape orientation use.
The 16GB model will cost $229,the 32GB model will come in at $269, and the 32GB LTE model will cost $349.
What We Think
I’ll save you the call; Gamestop is only offering $50 trade in on your old Nexus 7 🙂
This shows thoughtful, solid evolution of the Nexus 7 brand. I’ve ALWAYS believed in landscape, 16×9/widescreen usage on tablets and I’m pleased to see Google agrees with me.
Some will complain about the $30 price hike, but get real; the product easily delivers far more than +$30 value to the existing product. What would be really nice is if Google offered up a trade-up program on the “new” Nexus 7 for those that have already picked it up.
Note: If you have a two year warranty on your Nexus 7 through Wal-Mart (and I do), you need only wait for the original unit to go out of stock, then they will replace your “accidentally dropped” old unit for the newer one – my guess, anyway. Don’t write to me saying I promised you anything – but I’m going to try it 🙂
Actual Google hardware, this $35 HDMI dongle plugs into your TV and acts as an agent for your Android mobile device. Apps like YouTube, Netflix, Google Play media, Pandora and others can be used to “cast” videos and music quickly and easily to any Chromecast equipped TV in your house.
This is not STREAMING from your mobile device – but rather Chromecast will actually pull the content from your wireless internet but can be controlled, synced anywhere on your wifi.
In Beta is a new feature allowing you to “screencast” a tab from within Google Chrome from almost any device. Apparently this works very well already for a beta – and closes the gap on the need for an AirPlay type solution.
Developers will also be given an SDK to create Chromecast compatibility in their own apps and games.
Note: Google is taking pre-orders NOW.
What We Think
This dongle is going to be a hacker’s dream; Android on a stick for $35.
I think Chromecast is a solid idea and appears to be implemented in a way that makes more sense that something like AirPlay. Gaining penetration, built in hardware support for TVs and momentum will be the trick – and Google pissed people off with Nexus Q (which this product is clearly an evolved version of).
Keeping the price low and accessibility high (even my grandma can plug in an HDMI dongle) should offer Google success.
Operating System and first party app updates are always sure to please. What do we get this time?
You could talk all day about “the little things” in 4.3, but let’s cover the big ones.
4.2 brought us “profiles” that allowed multiple users to use the same tablet. 4.3 brings us RESTRICTED profiles; this cane be used to deny access to certain apps as well as giving apps the ability to detect a restricted profile and remove/change features – such as the ability to make IAP content unavailable to restricted profiles directly from the app.
OpenGL ES 3.0 support brings more power to game developers; allowing them to reuse, port and otherwise harness more power from the hardware with more “GPU type” features. I presume this wasn’t available before because of Tegra.
More DRM is coming; allowing HARDWARE level based DRM for media content. Netflix is already using it – and you can be sure others will be too.
Bluetooth Smart (aka 4.0) allows for “low power consumption” Bluetooth devices to suck less power from your device when paired. Think fitness dongles, smart watches, glasses, etc.
What We Think
This is a nice stop gap to tide us over until Android 5.0. They were smart to keep it Jellybean, too – to reduce the perceived “fragmentation” issue of Android.
I’m keen on parental restrictions on devices – especially where money is concerned. This could be taken even further and more granular – really giving power to the parents (and other authority figures like teachers in the classroom).
More DRM is not something I would have liked to see, but there may be a silver lining; more video content providers may hop on board if they feel safer – and with hardware level encryption, they won’t have to pull the plug on rooted devices anymore.
I’m all for Bluetooth evolution provided it doesn’t break existing services (like 4.2 did).
Various App Updates
There are minor updates to OS level apps but nothing worth its own bullet point.
Chrome, Maps, Google+ and Hangouts have already been updated prior to the presentation but they were discussed again here.
Google Play Games App
Early this year we got Google Play Game Services that allowed for leaderboards, achievements and more – unified within the Google ecosystem (saying goodbye to Facebook, Swarm, OpenFeint et al – good riddance). Today we got Google Play Games App, a unified app for viewing friends, leaderboards, achievements and more. Yep, think Game Center for Android and you’re on it. Update: Get it now!
What We Think
Finally. Let’s get Facebook and these other third-party APIs out of our games and unify them under a solid, evolving first party solution. This was long overdue.
Not much new here, but one thing that I do like to see.
At Google I/O we heard Google was taking education more seriously and announced today was Google Textbooks; think of it as an education version of Google Books. Purchase and even RENT textbooks from five major textbook publishers.
What We Think
I personally don’t want Apple in control of the classroom. Where there is no choice, there can be only evil. Google’s approach to educational integration is a good start – and if they can do ANYTHING to help the starving student get more return on their investment, I’m all for it.
Technology is moving faster than ever. To expect a “yearly” event to be even remotely adequate to disclose a big tech company’s direction and goals is almost ludicrous at this point.
These “mini presentations” are much desired and appreciated by the tech community and I hope we continue to see this trend continue.