Google Unveils $199 Nexus 7 Tablet, New Android Software and More

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Google’s day-one keynote from the 2012 I/O developer conference has officially wrapped up. We’ll have plenty of analysis directly from the show, but here’s a quick look at what’s been announced so far (check out pictures of the new hardware here).

Nexus 7 Tablet

Google officially unveiled the $199 Nexus 7 tablet, built by Asus. Its feature list is as follows:

  • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) operating system
  • 7-inch, 1280×800-resolution touchscreen
  • Quad-core Tegra 3 chipset with a 12-core graphics processor
  • 8GB of storage (16GB version available for $249)
  • Front-facing camera
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC
  • Nine hours of HD video playback
  • Weighs 0.75 pounds

Google says the Nexus 7 tablet is “optimized for Google Play” – meaning it’s geared toward consuming music, movies, games, books, magazines and more. The feature-set and price tag will certainly put a whole lot of pressure on similarly-priced (but less powerful) 7-inch tablets like Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s able to lure away would-be iPad owners as well.

The Nexus 7 tablet can be pre-ordered now and will ship in mid-July. More info here.

Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)

Google previewed some features of its next-generation Android operating system, such as:

  • Intelligently-resizing home screen widgets that play nicely with home screen icons
  • Offline voice typing – no need to have a data connection anymore
  • Actionable notifications that expand and collapse with two-finger gestures
  • Siri-like natural voice search with spoken answers
  • Google Now, which uses your search history, calendar and location to figure out what you might need. It’ll show you nearby public transit, stores and how long it’ll take you to get to the location of the next appointment in your calendar, for example.

Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) will be rolling out to Galaxy Nexus devices and Motorola’s Xoom tablet in mid-July. You can read more about the new platform here.

Nexus Q

And finally, Google also rolled out the Nexus Q, a $300 orb-shaped “social streaming media player” measuring 4.6 inches in diameter. It can be hooked up to your TV to stream YouTube videos as well as music, movies and TV shows from the Google Play store – all of which is controlled from your phone or tablet and your friends’ phones and tablets (hence the “social” part). It also features a built-in 25-watt amp for directly powering a pair of speakers, should you want to use it solely for music.

You can read more about the Nexus Q here.

Techland’s Harry McCracken and Jared Newman are both on the ground at Google’s I/O conference this week, so check back for in-depth coverage from the event.

MORE: Google’s Nexus 7 and Nexus Q: A Photo Tour of the New Hardware