Up until now, if you wanted to try out Android 4.4 KitKat, there were only two options available -- buy a new Nexus 5 that has the OS preinstalled, or download a custom ROM and roll your own. Now there is a new option, at least if you have a Nexus 7 or Nexus 10, as Google is rolling out the latest version of Android to its flagship tablets.
It is not just owners of the latest Nexus 7 who are in luck as the update is also being made available to the 2012 model. The fact that KitKat is rolling out to older hardware will please many people. Sadly, there has been no change of heart -- not yet, anyway -- for Galaxy Nexus owners hoping for an upgrade.
Smartphones and tablets are no longer just electronic devices -- they are fashion statements. It is becoming increasingly rare to find someone using one naked (without a case or cover). At some point, our iPhone-culture started to demand that our devices remain in flawless condition; this birthed an entire industry of fashion-based device protection. Yes, there were leather pouches and cases for old Palm Pilots and flip-phones, but a scuff or scratch on those devices was inconsequential.
When I received my second-generation Nexus 7, there were no cases available locally. I found that I had anxiety when using the tablet naked -- I was fearful of breaking or scuffing it. Luckily, I have an Amazon Prime account so the official Asus-made travel cover was only a day away (with $3.99 one-day shipping). I am happy to announce that the cover has arrived to my house so I can share my thoughts of it with you. So, is this cover good?
"The new Nexus 7 makes my Asus MeMO look pathetic". That is what I told my colleague Joe Wilcox over the weekend. Android, the open source Linux-based mobile operating system from Google can be found in many places -- cheap no-name tablets run the OS, but should be given a wide berth. Big name hardware makers also produce these gadgets -- Samsung and Sony to name just two. However, the most prominent on the market in recent times has been the Nexus 7, the pure Android experience from Google (but built by Asus), and the Kindle Fire HD, Amazon's highly customized tablet.
In the past, regardless of my liking for pure Android, I would have chosen the Amazon device in a heartbeat. It's thinner and has a better screen, plus Prime customers, like myself, have easy access to the retail giant's streaming video library. However, my view changed this past week, as Google rolled out its latest version of the Nexus 7.
Rest in peace, iPad mini. Google killed you. The question then: Is it murder or manslaughter -- or justified homicide, putting the Apple tablet out of our misery?
Three days using the new Nexus 7, I can't imagine why Apple let Google, and partner ASUS, seize back-to-school buying with the tablet. I don't refer just to the instrument of destruction but the means. The 2013 edition is widely available through major US retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy. By all indications there is inventory to meet demand, not the typical supply shortages, although the 32GB WiFi model is unavailable this weekend from many retailers -- but Google Play is stocked.
In what may have been one of the poorer kept secrets in tech, Google today took the wraps off the brand new Nexus 7. Unfortunately for the search giant, Best Buy won the race, by placing the new tablet up for pre-order early this morning. The device became official shortly thereafter, as Google held its breakfast event with Android chief Sundar Pichai.
"Together with ASUS, we took what you loved about the original Nexus 7 and made it even better," the company states in its official announcement. "The first thing you’ll notice is the sharpness of the screen: the 323 pixels packed into every inch of the screen makes it the world's highest-resolution 7-inch tablet. It’s lighter than ever, with more than nine hours of HD video playback and 10 hours of web browsing or reading. Nexus 7 now features stereo speakers and virtual surround sound from Fraunhofer (the inventors of the MP3 format), giving you rich and immersive audio".
Google is making an announcement regarding a new device today. No one outside of the giant tech corporation has any clue what it might be. No one I tell you. Not a single solitary person anywhere. Except maybe Best Buy.
Of course that leak might just be a total co-incidence. Google could in fact be preparing to announce Hat -- a mind reading/recording device for the head. Or something entirely different.
The next-generation Google Nexus 7 surfaced at Best Buy, with complete specifications, price and photos. Interested buyers can pre-order the new tablet, which is available in both 16 GB and 32 GB storage trims, and, presumably, receive it after the search giant officially unveils its latest slate (which should not be too far away).
According to the details revealed by the US retailer, the new Nexus 7 arrives with some pretty impressive hardware under its dark-colored shell, and runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (which, like the slate, has yet to be officially announced by Google). The price? Well, the 16 GB version runs for $229.99, while its 32 GB counterpart goes for $269.99.
Over the weekend, I sold my beloved Nexus 7. As BetaNews readers may be aware, the tablet has given me some trouble over the last year. I had complaints with the pre-order process and the tablet's performance. However, despite these complaints, I enjoyed the tablet very much. I definitely got my use out of it -- I used it to watch TV, read magazines and access social media like Twitter and Google+.
However, while I loved the Nexus 7, I heard rumors that a next-generation Nexus 7 was soon to be announced. And so, I sold my cherished tablet on Craigslist while it still had value -- there will likely be a fire sale once the successor is announced. I expected to take the money from the sale and put it towards a new tablet. I really wanted a Galaxy Note 8.0 but decided to wait for Google’s next Nexus tablet announcement. Waiting proved to be the right choice.
Accessories can make a portable device better. If you own the ASUS-manufactured, Google-branded Nexus 7 tablet, surely there is a case protecting it; sometimes, anyway. Some can prop the tablet, but there's another option. Can a dock improve the user experience and even extend the utility? That's what this quickie review seeks to answer.
The Nexus 7 dock is the official issue, made by ASUS, and sold from Google Play for $29.99. I ordered mine in late January, for $39.99, from B&H Photo, back when only third parties carried the accessory. Since then, the retailer dropped the price by five bucks. B&H took my order when the dock was out of stock, but shipped 8 days later. If you want this thing, don't be deterred by availability elsewhere but forget Google Play, which isn't taking orders as I write. Expect to spend more elsewhere. By the way, I would have waited and paid less, had I known better.
Jelly Bean may be the newest sweet in the family, but it is steadily gaining ground against its older brothers. Combined, Android 4.1 and Android 4.2 reached a 25 percent distribution level in the green droid realm, based on the number of devices accessing Google Play during the 14 days ending April 2.
Starting this month, Google has decided to alter how the data is collected. Google says: "Beginning in April, 2013, these charts are now built using data collected from each device when the user visits the Google Play Store. Previously, the data was collected when the device simply checked-in to Google servers". Why? Because the company considers the new collection method to be more accurate and that it best represents "users who are most engaged in the Android and Google Play ecosystem".
Blink and you missed it. Registration for Google's developer conference opened at 10 a.m. EDT this morning and sold out fast. With so much candy to offer -- Android Key Lime Pie, Chromebook Pixel, Glass and Google Now -- I'm not exactly surprised. Google I/O 2012 was big, and this year's event promises to be even bigger. I got the "Google I/O is sold out" on the registration page around 10:48 a.m.
Google charges $900 for general developer admission and $300 for students or school faculty. The event takes place in San Francisco from May 15-17. Considering the goodies Google gives attendees, some people might sign up just for the hope of free Glass or Pixel (don't hold your breath). Last year, attendees got Galaxy Nexus, Nexus Q and Nexus 7. Oh yeah, Train performed live.
My joy at receiving Nexus 7 32GB HSPA as a day-after-Christmas present turned to deep disappointment just two weeks later. Google replaced the device, and a second runs down the battery in about 15 hours, whether sitting idle or actively used. Near as I can tell, and others share my problem, Android 4.2 is root problem. My woes with the replacement tablet started with the point-two update, while others suffering similar misery report troubles with 4.2.1. Google really needs to fix this problem. Fast.
I wasted many hours troubleshooting. The prescribed fix is restore and reset, which I've done about a half-dozen times. No change. Perhaps the cellular radio drains the battery fast. I removed the SIM. No change. Maybe one of my apps keeps Nexus 7 from going idle. I restored and set up with my wife's Google account. No change. The battery app consistently lists the "screen" as top consumer, which suggests something prevents the tablet from going idle. Last night, I charged up. Nine hours and thirty-minutes later, there is 45 percent charge. At that rate, I'll set a new record: 16 -- maybe even 17 -- hours to zero. What a lucky day this is.
One year ago, March 6, 2012, Google renamed Android Market, and nothing is the same sense. The rebranded Google Play pushed forward a transition started in November 2011, with the broad expansion of content beyond apps. The name change also represented something bigger, shift in emphasis away from broader Android to the search giant's siloed services and brands. Google sought to imitate Apple while tackling wild Amazon.
On Play's first birthday, Google Android -- not the skinned software Amazon, HTC, LG, Samsung and others ship -- is a 98-pound weakling gone super steroids. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company sells apps, ebooks, gift cards, magazines, music, movies, TV shows and devices through the online store. There were no devices available a year ago, but now accessories, Chromebooks, smartphones and tablets. Three different computers are available, including the new and Google-branded Chromebook Pixel. Also: Two different Nexus 4 smartphones and Nexus 10 tablets and three Nexus 7 slates -- four if counting 32GB HSPA+ models twice, with different cellular SIMs.
The concept of Canonical taking a stab at the mobile market eludes me. Unless we want to split hairs, which I know will happen, Android already is the Linux ambassador across the globe, so why would the world need Ubuntu Touch? Furthermore, any new player starts out with a clean slate, which means many consumers will be skeptical at purchasing devices running the new operating system and therefore developer interest does not surpass a low threshold.
The PC market is not what it used to be a couple of years ago when people rushed out to buy new computers, rather than tablets or smartphones first. In some ways Canonical right now is Microsoft before Windows Phone and Windows 8 -- an important player further heading into obscurity down the road unless the boat steers in the right direction. Ubuntu Touch is supposed to give the world a breath of fresh air, the X factor that would sway enough people into switching from Android, iOS, Windows Phone or a feature phone, even.
Valentine's Day is all about romance, but whom -- or what -- do you really love? The stereotypical geek fawns over his or her gadgets and spends hours on PC (smartphone or tablet) instead of being with family or friends. Surely that describes you, and me, for that matter.
On this day of Cupid's arrows, I confess where they struck gadgets and other goodies and bound us in everlasting love. Take my wife, please, but leave my tech toys. She'll understand -- ah, right?