Google has officially announced the Nexus 7 tablet during its opening keynote at Google I/O 2012. As rumored, the device is manufactured in partnership with Asus, featuring a 7-inch 1280 x 800 display and a Tegra 3 SoC which itself comprises a quad-core CPU and twelve-core GPU. The device weighs in a mere 340 grams so it’s easy to carry around and will reportedly last for 9 hours of HD video playback.
Connectivity-wise you’ll get the mandatory Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but there was no mention of 3G/4G. You also get a front-facing camera for video conferencing and all the sensors you'd expect from a modern tablet.
The device will ship with the recently-announced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system and is being pitched as the ideal tablet for music, movies, books, magazines, apps, and games. Google highlighted a few of these things on stage, including the new Google Play magazine app featuring tablet-optimized articles with interactive elements, as well as playing a short clip from TV series Parks and Recreation.
There’s a new home screen that puts your content front and center — much like the Kindle Fire does — and new widgets to help you find books, apps, games, songs and more in the Google Play store.
Also highlighted were Google’s Chrome browser for Android, a completely redesigned YouTube app for tablets, the latest version of Google Maps with new overlays showing relevant information about places, a “Compass Mode” that lets you see inside-the-business photos, and support for offline maps.
Lastly, Google gave a glimpse at the tablet’s gaming capabilities with a couple of titles before announcing the all-important price and availability: the Nexus 7 will begin shipping in mid-July and will sell for $199.
At that price Amazon is going to have a hard time competing with its Kindle Fire — at least for now, since an update to the Kindle is rumored for the end of July. Google is certainly hoping to steal some sales from the iPad as well but given Android’s track record in the tablet market we’ll have to wait and see how that goes. One positive aspect is that since this is a Nexus device Google shouldn’t drag its feet when it comes to updates.
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