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Google is about to hand out a few million jellybeans.
Google on Wednesday unveiled and will make immediately available the latest version of Android, the largest mobile software platform in the world. Android powers over 70 million tablet devices and is on more than a billion gadgets overall, explained Sundar Pichai, who oversees the company's Android and Chrome operating systems.
"By our accounts, one in two tablets sold worldwide is based on Android," Pichai said.
The latest version of the software, named Jellybean, is being updated to version 4.3; the biggest improvement comes to multiuser support, such that a family can each have their own profile on a single device. It will be made available on a brand new version of the company's flagship Nexus 7, a wildly popular 7-inch tablet that dramatically undercuts the Apple iPad and goes head to head with Amazon's Kindle Fire product.
The new tablet has a 1,920 × 1,200 pixel resolution, or 1080p -- making it the world's highest resolution tablet, said Google's Hugo Barra.
“That’s completely unprecedented in a 7-inch tablet,” Barra said.
To take advantage of the higher resolution, Barra announced a new version of the Netflix app that will support 1080p content for the first time as well.
The device is far sleeker too, 6 mm slimmer and 50 grams lighter. It has dual stereo speakers, a CPU that's twice as fast and a graphics processor that is four times as fast, he said.
The new software will be immediately available to owners of the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ devices across the world; it will be up to individual cellular carries to upgrade the hundreds of millions of other devices powered by Android, however.
The new device and software were the main attraction at a San Francisco event being hosted by Google. The Nexus line of tablets that came out a year ago all run on the Android software that also powers hundreds of millions of smartphones.
Pictures of the upgraded versions of the Nexus tablet were posted on the Internet during the past few days.
Since its introduction last summer, the 7-inch model has proven particular popular among consumers looking for a less expensive alternative to Apple's iPad. The newly announced Nexus 7 with 16 gigabytes of storage will sell for $229, $20 more than a Kindle Fire HD with a similar size display. That compares to $499 for an iPad with a 10-inch screen and the same amount of storage. A 32GB version will sell for $269, and a version with 4G LTE network connectivity -- which will work with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon -- will cost $349.
The new tablet will go on sale Tuesday, July 30, both online and in a variety of stores.