Hurricane Sandy may have dampened Google's plans for a big New York City Android event, but even with that cancelled the company pushed out the news anyway: Android 4.2 and new Nexus devices. That isn't the only mobile news today, though. Microsoft, with an event in San Francisco and safely out of the storm path, launched Windows Phone 8. T-Mobile USA was front and center for both rollouts.
The carrier will be among the first to carry the new devices, including the "Nokia Lumia 810 and the Windows Phone 8X by HTC; the Google Nexus 4 with T-Mobile as a premier launch partner; and the Samsung Galaxy Note II". That's a pretty big lineup for a company that has struggled to compete with giants like Verizon and AT&T.
I just hauled back from the local Office Depot, which has Nexus 7 32GB in stock -- well, one left, for $249.99. The 16GB model is now $199.99, replacing the 8 giger at that price. So the rumors were true, and not all that surprising. I didn't check the local Gamestop, but online the 16GB tablet is $199.99. So it's not rocket science what's coming.
Something unexpected: With all the rumors about Android 4.2, I expected that version. But the spec sheet has 4.1. So it's anybody's guess what to expect and when. The real question: What new product pops next and where. Google may have cancelled the New York Android event because of Hurricane Sandy, but that may not stop retailers from going ahead with plans to offer product. The channel isn't easily stopped, particularly when there is chance to get in front of competitors with a hot product. Retailers don't share Google's priorities.
For those of you skydiving from the edge of space or returning from a week in some Fringe alternate universe, today Apple announced iPad mini -- so far the autumn's worst kept secret. Rumormongers got right the event and sales dates, product name and screen size but flubbed the price; sorry it's not $249 or $299, Bub. That's in another alternate reality. But do dream.
I just have to ask, again: Will you buy iPad mini? I look forward to the impact facts will have on your answers. In February I asked: "Apple is rumored to be developing a smaller tablet. Would you buy an 8-inch iPad?" About 56 percent of the 3,624 respondents answered "Yes". That's a high number. But much has changed since, with Google Nexus 7 joining Kindle Fire at $199, Amazon offering 8.9-inch tablets and Apple choosing to price higher than many people hoped. So I ask the question again, offering new poll and your chance to comment.
The invitations are out, and rumors proved true. Apple will hold a special press event, presumably for iPad mini, on October 23 -- that's three days before Microsoft launches Windows 8 and Surface tablets. Talk about party crashing. Apple almost surely will steal much of its rival's thunder, splitting media coverage and assuring that most every Windows 8 or Surface blog post or news story will mention Apple and iPad mini.
Anyone who thinks the timing isn't deliberate lives in lala land. Capitalism is all about brutal competition, and if iPad mini debuts next week Apple will heap hot coals through Microsoft's Windows and onto its shiny Surface. InterWeb writers have obsessed about the rumored tablet for weeks. Its arrival will be almost as blah blah worthy as Steve Jobs returning from the dead.
What the frak? Did Microsoft hire the same artist for Windows 8 packaging that Google used for Nexus 7? Because I am absolutely struck by similar color choices and graphic fluidity. You wouldn't confuse the boxes on a store shelf, because the products would be nowhere near one another. But one wonders if Google tapped a new trend in graphic box design, and Microsoft just copied along.
Before posting, and as sanity check, I asked colleague Tim Conneally about the boxes. "The similarity is kind of shocking", he responded. "That gunmetal grey color was nowhere to be seen in tech two years ago".
Google released factory images for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean about a month after announcing the mobile operating system during its developer conference in June. But the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation only waited two days after releasing the Android 4.1.2 update to post Google Nexus 7 and Galaxy Nexus factory images.
Using the factory images, the two devices can be updated to the latest Android version, 4.1.2 build number JZO54K, without waiting to get them over the air by cellular radio or Wi-Fi, or to be restored to stock after using a custom Android distribution such as CyanogenMod 10 or AOKP Jelly Bean. The factory images have only been updated for the Google Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ sold via Google Play and Google Nexus 7, yet they're likely to make an appearance for older devices as well, such as Nexus S.
As a CyanogenMod 10 user I religiously check for nightly builds, and today I received a bonus. Yesterday my colleague Joe Wilcox wrote "Google updates Nexus 7 to Android 4.1.2" and, while it will take some time for the update to push throughout the Nexus lineup, Android 4.1.2 is already incorporated into the latest CyanogenMod 10 nightly.
CyanogenMod 10 nightly, October 10 build, is based on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and sports the JZO54K build number, from the previous nightly that used Android 4.1.1 build number JRO03R. Upon a bit of research, for my Samsung Galaxy Nexus the popular Android distribution has undergone massive changes to include the "jb-mr0-release", similar to other devices such as the popular Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X or Google Nexus 7. Upon a bit further research it seems that apart from allowing launcher rotation, the build also includes a significant number of improvements from the previous build.
I typically don't post about minor Android updates, but Nexus 7 is popular among some BetaNews readers and this release reportedly comes with something many users have pined for: Desktop/launcher in landscape mode.
Jean-Baptiste Queru, technical lead for the Android Open Source Project, explains in a post on the Android Building Google group: "We're releasing Android 4.1.2 to AOSP today, which is a minor update on top of 4.1.1. As a note to maintainers of community builds running on Nexus 7: please update to 4.1.2 at the first opportunity. Future variants of the grouper hardware will have a minor change in one of the components (the power management chip) that will not be compatible with 4.1.1. The build number is JZO54K, and the tag is android-4.1.2_r1".
I typically don't write about rumors, since too many are obvious (and so look like someone simply guessed and wrote a story), while others aren't adequately sourced (who and why is uncertain). But readers have asked me today about the next Google Nexus device following new rumors it's coming within 30 days.
Duh, I can reasonably speculate that based on Google's past two Nexus phone launches October is reasonable debut. But something is different this year: Way fewer rumors, which could mean: 1) There is no imminent Nexus; 2) Google has cooked up something special. Or 3) You tell me another reason. It's the silence that has my interest more than the noise.
If you went to Google.com today, you probably noticed the logo was replaced with a fun little birthday cake animation celebrating 14 years of incorporation. Google was incorporated on Sept. 4th 1998, but chose today to celebrate the birthday. What does it matter when they celebrate, after all, Google has had a great year.
In April, Google released a concept video about Project Glass, fancy glasses with computers in them. In May, the search giant closed the purchase of Motorola Mobility. During the annual developer conference in June, Google made a lot of announcements, among them: Android 4.1, Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q and creepy but useful Google Now. The fun: skydiving, bicycles and rappelling down the side of a building. Big surprise: event participants could purchase a developer version of Google Glasses.
In the land of the rising sun a new tablet --the Google Nexus 7-- is making its first appearance.
The popular 7-inch tablet sporting Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was launched by Google in Japan. Like with the European launch, the Nexus 7 only comes in one flavor -- the 16GB model and it is available for purchase directly from Google's local Play Store for a price of 19,800 Japanese Yen, which is roughly $255.
There's an encore to Jelly Bean Build 1. Android Open Kang Project team has announced the availability of the second release named Jelly Bean Build 2 that should be even more impressive that the first.
So what's new? AOKP Jelly Bean Build 2 is based on Android 4.1.1 , build number JRO03L and adds stability improvements, improved functionality and larger supported devices list, that now includes Samsung Galaxy Note and Galaxy S III for Verizon Wireless and even the venerable Samsung Galaxy S. As a nice bonus for Google Nexus 7 (grouper) owners, 720p video recording is enabled for the front-facing camera.
CyanogenMod 10 is one of the most popular Android 4.1 Jelly Bean custom distributions available today, but keeping up with all the nightly releases can be time consuming, which is why the team behind the project announced the rollout of the M-Series build -- releases of CyanogenMod 10 that will be available at the beginning of every month.
CyanogenMod team wants to offer more stable builds on a timely manner, that is a departure from the ever present CM10 nightly builds that can vary in quality from one release to another. A code freeze was announced, blocking new features and focusing instead on stability that is of utmost importance for a build designed to work for a month and be adequate for daily use. They will still be labeled as "experimental" considering that at their core they still come from nightly builds.
The popular Google Nexus 7 tablet is now available in three new European locations: France, Germany and Spain, for a total of seven. The ASUS-made tablet is available for purchase directly from Google's own Play Store.
Only the currency has changed from the US pricing, with the 8GB Google Nexus 7 selling for EUR199, while the 16GB model will set you back EUR249.
I must preface by clearly stating that I absolutely love my Nexus 7. I recommended it to dozens of people, and fully plan to hand out a few as birthday gifts before the year is over. The tablet is incredibly solid, and worth every penny of the $200 selling price. As far as hardware is concerned, Nexus 7 is remarkable in nearly every aspect.
That said, Google’s approach to Android 4.1 on this device leaves me with a sense of practiced uncertainty and no clue where the tablet fits into the Android ecosystem.