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San Francisco – Forget Ice Cream Sandwiches. Jelly Beans are the new tech delight.
Google unveiled a new tablet called the Nexus 7 at the company's annual "Google I/O" developer conference, as well as the next version of its popular Android operating system: version 4.1, code named Jelly Bean.
The $199 tablet weighs 12 ounces, has a 7-inch screen more like the Amazon Kindle Fire than the 10-inch Apple iPad, and has up to 300 hours of standby time.
"It’s built for Google Play. It’s running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. And here it is,” said Hugo Barra, director of product management for Android, showing off the new tablet for the first time. The Nexus, which was built for the company by Asus, has a 1,280 x 800 display, a chipset from nVidia with a quad-core CPU, and an eye-popping 12-core graphics processor.
“That’s basically 16 cores,” he noted. Few modern computers exceed four cores.
Google demonstrated several neat features of the Nexus, including improved mapping features thanks to a built-in gyroscope and accelerometer, a Google Play magazine app that works like a newsstand, and a variety of games that take advantage of the device's powerful graphics hardware.
"Who says mobile gaming has to be casual?" the company joked.
The device is available for pre-orders today starting at $199, Barra said, and will ship in Mid-July. It comes with a $25 coupon for the Google Play store as well.
Google also unveiled a "cloud computer" for the living room called Nexus Q, designed to stream music and videos to the television from your Google devices. The compnay called it the world's first "social streaming device," and will sell it in July for $299.
The show began with Barra touting the features of the Jelly Bean OS.
“Jelly Bean builds upon what we created with Ice Cream Sandwich,” Barra told the crowd of developers. The new software offers smarter resizing of screen icons, improves text input thanks to a predictive keyboard that guesses the next word you type, and boosts speed.
Jelly Bean can also see the future.
The operating system anticipates where your fingers will touch the screen and plans accordingly, explained Dave Burke, Android engineering director. This and other modifications designed to improve the operating system were part of a program called “Project Butter,” Burke explained.
The new version of the software rethinks search as well, based on the massive revamp to the company's search engine unveiled in mid-May.
The company calls it the Knowledge Graph, and it has more than 500 million such things, with 3.5 billion connections between them.
Earlier versions of Android used voice recognition to translate your speech into emails, but the engine doing the translation was online. If you’re on a plane, you can’t use it.
The speech recognition function has been built into the Jelly Bean version of Android, Barra said, so that it will work offline. Google also added 18 new input languages, including Persian and Thai.
A new dimension to the search experience is Google Now. “Google Now knows that I’m a Giants fan and knows that there’s a Giant’s game coming up in a few hours," Barra said. The app updates in real-time and if you want, you can conveniently buy tickets from Google Now cards.
A software development kit for Jelly Bean would be made available to developers immediately. Google said it would roll out update over the air to the Galaxy Nexus and Xoom devices in Mid-July.