July 24, 2013 at 11:37 AM ET
Google unveiled a brand new Nexus 7 tablet, Android 4.3, and Chromecast, a tiny device that gets video content from phones and computers onto TVs, during an event in San Francisco on Wednesday.
"Today, we are going to talk about two things," Sundar Pichai — senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps — said as the event began. The first is a new Android device, the second, a new Chrome device.
The new Nexus 7 and Android 4.3
Pichai turned the stage over to Hugo Barra, vice president of Android product management, for the Android portion of Wednesday's announcement. Barra explained that the new Nexus 7 is a few millimeters thinner and narrower than the prior model. "It's a much more comfortable grip," he said.
The new 7-inch tablet has a better screen as well. It has gone from offering 1,280-by-800 pixels in the prior model to 1,920-by-1,200 pixels in the new one and from 216 pixels per inch (ppi) to 323 ppi. The RAM jumps from 1GB to 2 GB. The tablet has a 1.2-megapixel camera in the front and a 5-megapixel camera in the back. The new Nexus 7 will be available in three flavors: A 16GB Wi-Fi-only model for $229, a 32GB Wi-Fi-only model for $269 and a 32GB LTE-capable model for $349.
The new tablet, available July 30, will ship with Android 4.3, the newest version of Jelly Bean. While Android 4.2 introduced multi-user functionalities, Android 4.3 adds "Restricted Profiles." This feature allows apps to be restricted on a user level so that apps can behave differently based on the active user. Android 4.3 will also support Bluetooth Smart, which is a low-energy Bluetooth standard.
While Android 4.3 will ship with the new Nexus 7, it will be pushed out to the last-generation Nexus 7, Nexus 4, and Galaxy Nexus beginning on Wednesday. The HTC One and Samsung S4 which are sold with the "Nexus Experience" will receive Android 4.3 at a later time.
"The average household has three televisions," Pichai said, adding that many users struggle to get video content from their phones, tablets and laptops to their televisions. Google's solution to this problem is called Chromecast. Unsurprisingly, it's based on Chrome.
Chromecast is a small dongle which you plug into your television's HDMI input in order to push content from your phone, tablet, or computer.
Just open up YouTube, for example, and you'll find a new "Cast" button that'll get things started. You'll be able to push content, adjust the volume and more right from your phone. (And yes, you'll even have a "Cast" button on the iOS version of the YouTube app, not just on its Android counterpart.) Other apps, such as Netflix, Google Play Movies, Google Play Music and Pandora will also offer support for Chromecast.
You can seamlessly switch between controlling your television from various devices — be they phones, tablets, or laptops — instantly. This means that you're not suddenly going to lose control of a movie if the person who pushed it to your TV happens to leave the room.
The Chromecast dongle is priced at $35 and comes with three months of Netflix access. It can be ordered beginning on Wednesday.
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