Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Google Shows Off Project Glass and New Jelly Bean Tablet

Google on Wednesday unveiled its own branded Nexus 7 tablet computer designed to challenge Apple's iPad and Jelly Bean, also known as Android 4.1 update to current Ice Cream Sandwich OS.

The device is made by the Taiwanese company Asus rather than the firm's own Motorola hardware unit. It runs the new Jelly Bean version of Android.The machine will be sold for $199 (£127) from mid-July pitching it directly against Amazon's Kindle Fire.The 7-inch device has a smaller screen than Apple's bestselling iPad and is 340g meaning it is also lighter to hold.

A significant new feature is Google Now, which uses a person's location, search history and calendar entries to offer more pertinent search results, Google said. Google Now appears to basically turn Android into a personal assistant for a user's life.For example, Google Now learns roughly when a person commutes to work and what route they take. It will then check traffic reports each morning and recommend a faster route when there's one available. When a user is near a bus stop or train station, Google Now will tell users what time the next bus or train is arriving. And if a user searches for a flight, Google will remember that and push out notifications if the flight is delayed.

Google Now can show information about what restaurants and bars are nearby as a user walks down a street. And in a restaurant, it will even recommend what the most popular dishes are.

One of the Google Maps features the company showed off  was a new compass mode for Business Photos, a Street View-like feature that lets you look inside a business. In compass mode, Business Photos hooks into the Nexus 7's gyroscope so all you have to do to look around a business inside Google Maps is turn your device instead of tapping to navigate.

The Nexus 7 sounds like a great device, and given its low price, tight integration into the Google Play Store and impressive specs, this device could become the most successful Android tablet yet.

Jelly Bean, also known as Android 4.1, will be the successor to the current Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android, and will start to be pushed out to some Android phones next month. Jelly Bean improves the voice typing function in Android, which lets users type messages and perform searches by speaking into the phone.

Android’s Voice Search now no longer require connectivity to work; you can still use them offline. This is an edge Google’s dictation feature has over Siri, which does require connectivity, since the actual processing for Siri happens in the cloud.Offline voice typing will be available initially for U.S. English and will be offered in other languages "soon" according to Google.

Google also announced the Nexus Q streaming device, which will streaming movies and music from the cloud and will compete with direct Apple TV. The circular device can stream movies purchased from the Google Play store or from Youtube to high-definition TVs, the company said at the Google I/O conference being held in San Francisco. Users will also be able to stream music purchased from Google Play store directly to stereo systems.

The Nexus Q costs US$299 and can be ordered now with shipping in July. Google is offering accessories including $399 Triad Bookshelf Speakers.

Jelly Bean also has better notifications, so that users won't have to open separate applications to act on those notifications. If an email notification pops up, for instance, the user can view the email from within the notification instead of opening the Gmail app. They can also return calls from within a missed call notification.

The new OS also adds new input languages -- Urdu, Hindi and Thai. And it can connect to external braille devices via Bluetooth.

Google's co-founder Sergey Brin also took to the stage to showcase the firm's Glass project - augmented reality glasses that are still in development.Rather than introduce a demo he brought up live feeds from devices being worn by Google employees sat in a floating airship above San Francisco. 

Attendees then watched live footage screened through the headsets as they skydived to the roof of a building below.Cyclists on the same roof then streamed pictures as they jumped over ramps before riding into the main floor of the I/O event.

Engineers then explained the "philosophy" of the equipment, saying that they had placed a screen above the right eye to make it easy to continue interacting with the real world.Mr Brin added that an "explorer edition" of the glasses was being made available for pre-order to US-based developers attending the conference. He said it would cost $1,500 and was set to ship early next year.

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