Instead of 50 different posts for the same ~1-2 hour keynote, we’ve got everything you need to know about the Google I/O 2012 keynote right here in one handy post. So without any more delay, Google I/O 2012:
Asus’ Nexus 7 Tablet
The self-branded, “pure”, Nexus tablet so many Android junkies have been waiting for is now finally official. Today at Google I/O 2012′s opening keynote, Google unveiled the Asus-made Nexus 7 which features a 7″ 1280 x 800 IPS display, quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 1 GB of RAM 16 or 32 GB of built-in storage and front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera. Similarly, rumors of the next Android version, “Jelly Bean”, taking the 4.1 numbering scheme instead of 5.0 were also correct. The GPU in particular sounds impressive as it’s said to have 12 cores.
Battery life figures via Google are 9 hours for video playback and 300 hours for standby.
Exclusive to the Nexus 7 (for now) are new “recommended” widgets that cater to apps, music and more, and get smarter with more relevant recommendations over time as your phone learns your personal likes/dislikes. Similarly, the Nexus 7 and Jelly Bean bring an all-new tablet version of YouTube completely re-designed from the ground up for larger displays.
Google Maps now features offline maps for entire cities meaning a cellular connection is no longer needed and a new compass mode that uses the device’s built-in gyrometer to “go inside” buildings.
Availability of the Nexus 7 begins today for $199 (as rumored) with shipping starting in mid-July. As part of the festivities, Google is tossing in a $25 gift card to the Google Play store so you can begin filling up that new Nexus 7 of yours with rich content.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean – OTA Updates Beginning Mid-July
The main gist behind Project Butter is that the phone will now more quickly (and properly) ramp up the CPU/GPU as needed whenever the display is being interacted with thanks to “triple buffering in the graphics pipeline” which will “ensure consistent frame rates with interface animations”. In short: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean runs like greased lightening.
- Automatically resizing widgets
- Improved predictive text
- Offline voice typing
- Support for 18 new input languages including Arabic and Hebrew as well as external brail input
- Faster photo viewing/sharing (to compliment the faster photo taking that debuted in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich)
- Android Beam – Beam now features a “tap-to-air” feature for Bluetooth speakers
- Rather significantly improved notifications – now, notifications show more information. Not only that, notifications can now be collapsed and expanded within the notification drawer (activated with a two-finger gesture) as well as customizable. (Pre-programmed) quick response options are now also available to use within the notification drawer, and Google+ +1′s can be done within the notification drawer, too, without ever having to open the Google+ app — nice.
- Vastly improved search – using what Google calls “Knowledge Graph”, searching within Jelly Bean will be much better thanks to dramatically improved performance in the form of more relevant answers as well as the depth of information that can be searched. More importantly, however, is that Google’s attention to design is beginning to shine through. The search results in Jelly Bean look nice. Like, really nice. And remember, this is all driven by voice first and foremost. From the demos shown off at Google I/O, it’s immediately clear that Google is providing a true Siri competitor (as opposed to that crap called S Voice).
- Google Now Cards – Building off of the improved search above are Google “Now Cards” Basically, Now Cards are a collection of various mini-apps/queries like sports, traffic data, calendar, email history, etc. that are all compared to each other and matched up, allowing Jelly Bean to better manage your day and help you get to where you need to go on time. One demo shown off on stage involved using the speaker’s history (going to the gym every day around lunch time for 30 minutes) and then comparing it to a delayed flight information “card” that said his flight was late by at least 30 minutes, and that he still had time to go to the gym — all in the background, automatically. Google Now Cards will increase in type, efficiency and intelligence over time, according to Google, and will take the automated schedule to an all-new level.
- App Encryption – In Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, apps will now feature a device-specific key to better protect against, as some would call it, “rampant piracy” for paid Android apps.
- “Smart Updates” – delta updates for apps! No more re-downloading a massive app that only needs a small selection of updated individual files. (Supported on Gingerbread and above)
- Google Cloud Messaging – completely free for all developers and with no quotas.
- Google Play – video and full-length TV shows are now available for purchase in Google Play. Not only that, Android users can now subscribe to, download and read magazines from Google Play. For magazines, a 14-day free trial is standard.
- Availability: Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, and Xoom starting in mid-July (via OTA)
Nexus Q and Triad Speakers
First up in the accessories realm is Google’s own Nexus Q “Social media player” that uses WiFi + cloud-stored music/videos to stream audio/video to anywhere you please. The Q also supports external speakers and can power them via the built-in 25-watt amplifier. Android 4.0 powers the Q’s 1 GB of RAM as well as manages all 16 GB of local storage. Finally, a capacitive touch sensor will allow Q owners to mute audio as needed.
The Q will display visuals when connected to your TV, and when paired with other Q streaming devices, can sync audio streams and beam the audio goodness to all corners of your humble abode. Even cooler, though, is the “DJ”-like mode that allows anyone who can connected to the Q the ability to change currently playing music as well as adding new tracks to the Q’s queue. If per-room audio listening is more your thing, the Qs around your house can also be configured with individual playlist queues if you can’t be bothered to share listening habits with a friend or family member. Similarly, any connected device can share and stream movies around to connected Q devices.
Priced at $299 and slated to ship in 2-3 weeks, Nexus hardware owners might want to sit up and take notice. Google is making some pretty sweet accessories now. That said, as cool and potential awesome the Q could grow to become as new features are added, $299 seems a bit steep for what we’re seeing here. Then again, basic speaker docks (which arguably provide a much better audio experience at least) are the same price. So maybe Google isn’t too out of line here.
Accompanying the Nexus Q are a pair of $399 “Triad” speakers. Clocking in at 14lbs. each, the Triad speakers feature 85 dB/1W/1m sensitivity, 8 ohms impedance, a frequency response of 75 Hz – 20 kHz (+/-3dB) and 125-watt (max) rating.
HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus Price Drop
Outside of all the hype surrounding Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the new Nexus 7 tablet and the Nexus Q social media streamer, Google also took it upon themselves to make entering the purest Android ecosystem around a bit cheaper. The unlocked HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus is now $349 off-contract. If you’re new to this whole off-contract phone thing, you should know that $349 for an unlocked, still more-than-capable smartphone is a steal. Seriously. We’re even tempted at picking one up no strings attached.
Google+ Tablet App (Android/iPad) & Cinemagraphs
At the tail end of the Google I/O, Google’s own Vic Gundotra came out to announce availability of the new Google+ tablet app. A ton of UI tweaks/enhancements compared to the phone app are present as are an even greater focus on big, vivid pictures. The Android tablet version of Google+ is available beginning today with an iPad specific version hitting the interwebs “soon”.
One final Google+ feature announced today should really cater to Google Calendar/Gmail/G+ junkies as it ties all three together. From here on out, calendar invites sent to other Google users will feature rich and quite frankly, awesome looking invite cards that even within the normally baron Google Calendar landscape feel much more modern and social.
Building on Cinemagraphs above, Google+’s new “Party Mode” will allow you to invite attendees to an event and then snap and share pictures with said attendees in real-time. (We can see this being both fun/bad…)
Thoughts On Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Nexus 7 And More?
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is definitely a better choice than “5.0″. The changes, while impressive don’t feel worthy enough of an entire version number increase. Still, we like what we see, especially the revamped searching in Jelly Bean. Likewise, the Nexus 7 is already one of the more “complete” Android tablets we’ve seen yet. (It helps when the person making/overseeing the manufacturing of the hardware has some insight into the software as well.)
As for the Q, it’s cool and unique and sure to be a party favorite. But $299 will keep it pretty niche for now, we think.
Images via The Verge live blog