Google I/O Round-Up

By Andrew Rafter,

With Google I/O developers now finished we take a look back at Google’s two big announcements: the world’s first ever Nexus 7 tablet and the latest version of Android’s Jelly Bean operating system.

Google made its intention to conquer the tablet market when it released a tablet-friendly version of Android Honeycomb in 2010 – its had some success with 10 million Honeycomb tablets sold since it’s release.

Nexus-7

But, during the same time Apple sold 30 million tablets – so Google has taken stock and is now seemingly changing tack and going after the both the budget and premium markets. Google’s showed off Nexus 7 tablet, which has been built in conjunction with Asus, and will be priced at just £159 for the base model – slap-bang in the middle of the Amazon’s Kindle Fire price range.

But what do you actually get for you hard earned? The tablet comes with an impressive IPS screen, boasting a resolution of 1280 x 800 – punching well above its weight for its price range.

While some might bemoan the size of the screen, it does achieve a ppi (pixels per inch) ratio of 216, which is impressive considering the cheap price.

Where the Nexus 7 does hit the headlines is Google & Asus’ decision to incorporate Nvidia’s quad-core processor, the Tegra 3, which is currently found in both the top-end HTC One X and Asus Transformer Prime.

You can expect to get 8 hours of active use with the tablet, and Asus reckon you’ll get up to 300 hours on standby. The Asus Nexus 7 tablet is very compact for its size, measuring just 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm. On top of that it weighs in at just 340g, around half that of the new iPad.

There’s a 1.3 megapixel camera on the front, but no camera on the back – although this isn’t that surprising considering the low price point.

Where things begin to fall apart is expansion and connections; there’s no HDMI or SD card slot – but you’re afforded the luxury of a micro USB – unfortunately there’s no 3G but there is of course Wi-Fi b/g/n.

Google is already taking orders on their Google Play Store, and it will begin shipping to the US, UK, Canada and Australia in July, priced £159 for the 8GB and £199 for the 16GB version.

Overall the Nexus 7 blows the competition out of the water for its price point. As well a getting a stunning tablet for a third of the price of an iPad – you’ll be getting the first device running Google Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Google has gone to great lengths with Jelly Bean to make sure there’s no lag when opening up applications, especially when switching between apps – those of you who own an Ice Cream sandwich handset will know the multi-tasking menu sometimes takes a couple of seconds to load, with Jelly Bean it’s now instant.

Perhaps the biggest change in Android Jelly Bean lies in the notifications drop down menu. Google has overhauled the existing Android notification system and made it even more useful. You can now see additional information on emails, including a list of your unread messages. By holding two fingers over an email and pulling them apart, you can get an expanded view, showing the contents of the message without even having to open up Gmail.

Google Now is another major addition; it’s Google’s attempt at creating a Siri-like concierge service, but with intelligence to surf the web for it’s answers.

As soon as Google Now opens, it tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favorite team’s score while they’re playing. And the best part? All of this happens automatically; cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them from a variety of context and location sources.

It’s still too early to say quite how good Android Jelly Bean is, this is because by the time it goes to other handsets with new skins and slight cosmetic changes it might have lost a bit of its sheen, but from our early impression it’s the best OS Google has ever made.