As expected, Google on Wednesday announced the Nexus 7 tablet, a handheld device that appears to be targeted at Amazon’s Kindle Fire rather than the market-leading iPad. The Nexus 7 seems to share—or outright copy—a number of features that were previously unique to the Fire, but of course it ties into Google, rather than Amazon, online services.
If you’ve been following the rampant Nexus 7 rumors over the past week, there were no surprises: Nexus 7 is exactly as promised, with a thin and light design, a 7", 1280 x 800 HD display, a TEGRA 3 chipset with a quad-core processor, Wi-Fi (but not 3G/4G) connectivity, and 9 hours of battery life. In other words, it’s a heck of a lot like the Kindle Fire, albeit with some bumped-up specs.
It will start at $199 (the same price as the Kindle Fire) and is available for preorder from the Google Play website. The devices will ship in mid-July, according to the company.
Google says that the Nexus 7 is made for (or optimized for) its Google Play service, which—like similar Amazon services that are integrated into the Kindle Fire—provides digital music, TV shows and movies, books and magazines, and more. (Some of these services, including TV show and movie purchasing, and magazine support, were added to the service for the Nexus 7 launch.)
Google has of course customized its own mobile apps for the device and showed off some, including Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps, the latter of which will offer offline support so that you can download the data for an entire city and then use it while out and about.
Google also announced its latest response to the Apple TV—a weird, spherical device called Nexus Q that Google describes as its first consumer-electronics product. It’s the latest in a long line of living-room set-top boxes, but it runs Android, not Google TV, and features social-networking functionality that could be interesting. Nexus Q will cost $299 and, like the Nexus 7, is available for preorder with shipments starting in mid-July.