1. There’s a Google Tablet
- It’s called the Nexus 7, and it is, of course, a 7-incher, like the Kindle Fire. It’s $200, like the Kindle Fire. It’s basically a Kindle Fire without all the Amazon integration and with better everything else. It’s got a near-retina-grade screen too.
- Play, Google’s big mega music/movie/game/book/magazine store, has much more content now. There goes the last thing the Kindle Fire had going for it.
-Everything else you need to know about this tablet is tied up with the future of Android. Speaking of!
4. There’s a new version of Android coming
- I mean, yes, there’s always a new version of Android coming, but still. This is Android 4.1, which people on the internet will insist on referring to by its codename, “Jellybean.”
- “Project Butter,” as Google is calling it, isn’t a feature, exactly. It’s more like a promise: new phones will feel better. Android still doesn’t feel as fluid as iOS or Windows Phone, so prioritizing this kind of thing is important.
- You can do a little more with your notifications, like interact directly with email messages, which is nice. This, though, is one of the areas where Android is already categorically better than everyone else.
- There’s a Google Siri, now. A natural language voice robot, instead of Android’s old unatural language voice robot. She has a nicer voice than the Siri lady, imho. Less smug.
- It’s not coming to your phone, probably. This is going to be available for a couple of newer Nexus phones, the Xoom and the new Nexus Tablet. If your phone is still stuck on Android 2.3 or whatever, this doesn’t change anything. Sorry :/
8. Google has a whole new kind of search, starting on Android
- Arguably the most important thing we saw today was a new Android feature called Google Now. In nine words: it’s a super-context-aware search that doesn’t look like search.
- Ok ok ok, let’s try that again. You know how Google bases some search results on where you are? This is like that, but with everything. And without the search.
- Ok, one more time. With Android 4.1, you just hold a button and you get, like, a REPORT on yourself. It knows where you are, so you’ll get the weather and directions to where your calendar says you need to go. You’ll get sports scores too. It’s almost like Google is showing off here: this is how much we know about you. If it works, it’s a pretty huge refiguring of what smartphones are for. But, again: if.
- The results don’t look like search results — they’re “Cards.” This is Google’s first real step away from the big list-o-links it’s been using for years.
13. There’s also a Google TV box (ball?), called the Nexus Q
- The most important thing about is that it is $300. More than an Xbox 360. With a Kinect. And two games.
- It’s supposed to be a “social streaming” thing, but only with your friends who have Android phones, who can fight you to pick the song that’s playing. In fact, you can’t really do anything with it unless you have another Android device.
- It plays videos from the Google Play store and YouTube. No mention of Netflix or Hulu or any video service you actually use. Or even Google TV.
- TBH, no one is quite sure exactly what all it does. Surely it does more?
- It is made in the USA and looks vaguely menacing, but also kind of cool? This is why everybody says it costs $200 more than an Apple TV. But I don’t know if people care $200 worth about a piece of technology being made in the USA.
17. Google+ still exists
- It’s been a year since this thing launched. Not a great year. But a year.
- There are some VERY SNAZZY new party invites, with GIF support — “cinemagraphs” — which is objectively a Good Thing. Any technology that promotes GIF use is a worthwhile technology that should be supported by all people and possibly even governments.
- It gets some new apps, which are gorgeous. Google makes the best mobile apps of any social network, which is a shame because it has the lamest social network.
20. Google’s Project Glass is really, really real and you can buy it
- Well. Not you. Developers can buy it in 2013. For $1500. You’ll probably be able to buy a thing like it by 2014.
- It fits on top of regular glasses, and sunglasses. So you might look less awkward wearing them than you originally imagined. Probably not though.
- In perhaps the coolest tech demo ever, Google had a bunch of bros jump out of the sky, land on the roof of the convention center, jump a bike ramp and rappel down the side, all while wearing Glass. Maybe a skydiving ticket is included in the purchase of every Glass.
- Google didn’t show much else about what Glass can or will do, besides shoot live video and photos. But that’s exactly why they’re giving it to developers — to figure out what this thing should be able to do, hopefully before it lands on your face and you wonder why it’s there. You might still do that.
25. Oh yeah, and Google became a new kind of company today
Google, like Apple and more recently Microsoft, is moving toward a future in which Google products don’t have branded hardware partners — where Android devices are Google devices and the Google universe is both complete and exclusive. Google is becoming an Everyware company. This is a good thing for everybody but the hardware partners.
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The last point is key. In theory, there’s something admirable about the hardware-ambivalent, open-sourceyness of Android, but in practice, it’s a nightmare. I’m on my third Android phone. I still prefer it to iOS, but I’ll readily admit the physical build of iPhones is infinitely better than 99% of Android phones (and still at least somewhat better than the other 1%). Plus there’s a huge lack of quality control when there’s an added layer of requisite collaboration between Google and Android handset makers. The result is a bunch of shit phones that are buggy as hell (of which I’ve owned two—I’m looking at you HTC and Samsung—and my Motorola is only somewhat better). In practice, vertical integration is where it’s at. Also, never end a sentence in a preposition.
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