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Google announces trio of Nexus devices, Android 4.2 with Miracast and multiple account support
Google was forced to cancel an Android event planned for this morning due to Hurricane Sandy, but the company still went ahead and revealed its revamped Nexus lineup in a blog post. As rumored, a new Nexus phone manufactured by LG will take over as Google’s flagship handset, while an updated Nexus 7 tablet alongside an all-new Nexus 10 model will place a bit of pressure on Apple’s iPad lineup.
The Nexus 4 smartphone features a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, which Google touts as the fastest on the market, as well as a 4.7-inch 1280 x 768 IPS display, 2GB of RAM, dual cameras (1.3MP front, 8.0MP back), and either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage. Google also baked in NFC support and a wireless charging feature that lets you power the phone by setting it down on an inductive “Charging Orb”.
The latter is somewhat reminiscent of the Palm Touchstore, with the face of the dock set at an angle so you can easily see the phone when charging and magnets inside the Orb preventing it from sliding off.
Google says the Nexus 4 uses the Qi wireless charging standard, so charging pads designed for Nokia's Lumia phones should be compatible too.
On the software side, the Nexus 4 introduces Android 4.2 as a new flavor of Jelly Bean, with support for Miracast (an open alternative to Apple’s Airplay), a new gesture typing keyboard similar to Swipe, a feature called Photo Sphere for creating 360-degree panoramas, among other improvements.
One feature notable missing is support for LTE networks, though. According to The Verge, Google left this feature out in order to have complete control of the software with no carrier intervention -- apparently there's no access to LTE networks without working with carriers in one way or another.
As a result, the Nexus 4 will only be available as an unlocked HSPA+ device starting on November 13 in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Spain and Australia, with other markets around the world getting the phone towards the end of the month. The device will sell for $299 with 8GB of storage or $349 with 16GB. A T-Mobile version will sell unlocked for $199 on a two-year contract.
Next up, Google announced a couple of updates for the Nexus 7 tablet introduced this past summer. The first relates to storage capacity, which now starts at 16GB for the same $199 or 32GB for $249, and the second is a new model with 32GB of storage and HSPA+ mobile data compatible in 200 markets for $299.
Otherwise, the design of the Asus-made tablet as well as the rest of the specs remain the same. The new Nexus 7 (32GB + Mobile) will be sold via the Google Play Store starting November 13.
Lastly, Google announced Samsung as its hardware partner for a larger Nexus 10 tablet to rival the full-size iPad. The device features a dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 chip paired with 2GB of RAM, as well as a 10-inch screen at 2560 x 1600 resolution, clocking in at 300ppi. There’s also a 5MP camera on the back, a 1.9MP camera on the front, and a 9,000mAh battery that Google says runs for 9 hours.
Other features include microUSB, Micro HDMI and not one but two NFC chips.
The Nexus 10 also ships with a stock version of Android 4.2 featuring some tablet-specific improvements. Among them is multiple user support for easier sharing (each user gets their own apps and data), a "Daydream" mode that's essentially a screensaver, and a number of accessibility improvements.
The tablet will be available in 16GB and 32GB variants for $399 and $499, respectively, or essentially $100 less than a comparable iPad with Retina display. That price coupled with the device’s high-end specs make this -- at least on paper -- the Android tablet to have in the upper end of the spectrum. But while Android has been incredibly successful in the smartphone arena it still needs to up its game when it comes to tablets, specifically with apps designed with tablets in mind rather than stretched out versions of their smartphone counterparts.
It will be available November 13th in the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, Spain and Canada.
In addition to the new hardware, Google also announced updates to its voice assistant feature Google Now, which now offers flight information, restaurant reservations, hotel confirmations and shipping details. Meanwhile, Google Play is getting new video content and is launching the music store in Europe.
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