Google Intros Nexus 7 Tablet

Posted by at 12:14 pm on June 27, 2012

At the Google I/O event in San Francisco, the company has unveiled the Nexus 7 tablet. Designed by Google but built by Taiwan’s Asus, the seven-inch tablet will sell for just $199.

Aimed directly at the popular 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, which also sells for $199, the Nexus 7 features content like magazines, books and movies front and center. The “My Library” widget on the home page features tiles with the latest content you were reading or watching, and a tap of the tile launches that content right where you left off.

The Nexus 7 weighs 12 ounces, compared to the Fire’s 14 ounces. It also features a much richer HD screen and a faster graphics chipset. That marks a complete 180-degree turn for Google, which launched the high-end Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet at last year’s I/O event. The Galaxy Tab looks and feels so much like the iPad that Apple sued Samsung and won an injunction on Tuesday to prevent further sales of Samsung’s device in the United States.

By far the most successful low-end tablet is the Kindle Fire, which sold well during the holidays. It runs a heavily customized version of the open-source Android software, and it steers users toward Amazon’s own app store — not Google’s.

The company also unveiled “Jelly Bean,” the latest edition of its dessert-themed mobile operating system. Jelly Bean’s coolest new feature puts it head-to-head with Apple’s Siri personal assistant. Jelly Bean will allow users to type with their voices even when they’re offline, and users can get instant answers back just by asking their phone questions.

Like Siri’s WolframAlpha integration, Jelly Bean features Google’s new Knowledge Graph of 3.5 billion facts that get displayed instantly when searched for. So a question about “Who is the Prime Minister of Japan” spits back a Siri-like response of “Yoshihiko Noda.”

The Nexus 7 tablet is available starting Wednesday in the Google Play market, and it will begin shipping in mid-July.

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