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Google I/O 2012 Kicks off on a high

posted Jun 28, 2012, 5:57 AM by Tom Otomanski   [ updated Jun 28, 2012, 5:58 AM ]

So Google I/O 2012 kicked off with a massive bang yesterday, below are the high-lights.

Nexus 7 Tablet

First up, Google introduced it’s much rumoured/leaked 7 inch tablet made by ASUS. It’s running a nVidia Tegra 3 Quad core CPU clocked at 1.3 GHz, sports an 7 inch HD (1280×800) IPS display with 221 PPI, the GPU is a 12 core chip. The rest of the specs are pretty standard, 1 GB RAM, 8 or 16 GB internal storage, the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC specs and has a 1.2 MP front facing camera. The tab is running the latest beta flavour of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. This tab should slot nicely in the Galaxy tab space. It will be available for $199 and will start shipping in mid-July.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

So the next major release of Android was finally previewed to the world. While the version bump is a minor one, the OS features some nice improvements as well as new features.

First off, they introduced the Project Butter UI, giving the user a faster and more fluid UI experience. This includes triple buffering in the GFX pipelines to allow a consistent FPS throughout the OS. The OS basically predicts what you’re going to do before you do it, thereby loading certain parts into memory before you do anything.

Second was Google Now. Google Now is a new service that uses your search history, calendar info and location to help make your searches more relevant. If for instance you need to catch a flight somewhere and the flight gets delayed and you want to do something else, Google Now will notify you that you have enough time as the flight was delayed. It integrates with other Google services like Maps, Traffic, Calendar and Search. You can see an intro here.

Offline voice typing was also introduced, allowing you to use offline based input without having an active internet connection. Voice search has also been improved as well as more languages will be added soon.

There have been nice UI improvements with regards to Home Screen widget manipulation as well as Notification Tray updates and Google+ integration. They have also improved the Camera and Gallery apps in 4.1.

Lastly, 4.1 brings with it App Encryption whereby paid apps will be delivered with a device-specific key. Jelly Bean also brings with it Smart App Updates which will allow incremental updates (Delta changes only) to be delivered instead of re-downloading the whole app (Suck on that iOS).

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will be distributed as an OTA (Over the air) update starting in mid-July and will be heading to the Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus and the Motorola Xoom tab.

Nexus Q

Then came the surprise announcement of the Nexus Q, a matte black looking orb that functions as a home media streamer. What’s more to say? It’s a glorified AppleTV at 3 times the price…

Project Glass

This was in my opinion the standout part of the keynote. I think the fact that Google pulled this live demo off made the likes of Apple and Microsoft green with envy. The amount of things that could possibly gone wrong were staggering.

Some of you have seen the first Project Glass video, so now picture this. Skydivers wearing Project Glass glasses, jumping out off helicopters and blimps, and you are seeing the video stream from the skydivers, live. Then switch to crazy dudes on bikes driving around and hitting ramps, eventually making their way on stage, and you’re watching it from the bikers viewpoint, live…

That’s exactly what happened! Hats off to Google on pulling this live demo off, now onto the hardware:

U.S Google I/O 2012 attendees can pre-order a set of Glass Explorer Edition glasses for $1500, it will ship sometime early next year. Now while some may scoff at that price, remember, this is the birth of a new device, I’d be surprised if the price isn’t halved by the time it’s released to the consumer market (Hopefully in 2014?). For those of you interested in seeing the Skydiving demo check it out here.

Other small announcements

There were a couple of other small announcements to point out. Google’s Chrome browser is finally out of beta and is available for all Android 4.0 devices. The other announcement is the Google+ app for Android tablets. It is finally here, iOS app is coming soon for the iPad.

So that’s it, check out the various product videos from Google I/O 2012:

Nexus 7 Tablet
Introducing Nexus Q
How Nexus Q works
Introducing Google Now
Do Droids dream of Jelly Beans?
Project Glass live demo on The Verge