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?
Nexus devices are largely sold out this holiday season. Supply can't meet demand, particularly the new smartphone. But one Google gadget is missing altogether, pulled before official sales started. I've got Nexus Q, and you should be able to have one, too. The entertainment device is quirky, but I like it. Surely there is stock sitting around in some warehouse somewhere. Sell it out, Google. Give geeks something else to clamor for and recover some of the development and manufacturing costs.
The sphere-shaped device is a remarkable product, and changes fundamental concepts about digitally-delivered entertainment. Users stream music or movies from the cloud, using Android smartphone or tablet as remote control. The approach solves a fundamental end-user problem with digital content: Simple sharing.
Yesterday Google updated factory images for the Nexus 7 and Galaxy Nexus; today Android 4.1.2 is available for the almost two-year old Nexus S smartphone and Ice Cream Sandwich for the US-made Nexus Q.
Nexus Q launched alongside the latest mobile operating system during Google I/O in June, but today marks the first time it makes an appearance on Nexus Factory Images, still available with the Android 4.0 it originally shipped with. In late July, Google suddenly suspended sales and delayed the entertainment device's launch. Release of factory images could foreshadow closer release. If nothing else, developers with the device have more options to experiment.
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.
Night before last, I rented "Batman Begins" in glorious high-definition, to refresh my memory and complete recent watching "The Dark Night Rises". I didn't use Apple TV, Google TV, Roku or any other set-top box but the ultra-cool, pulsing blue-LED lit Nexus Q, using my Android phone as remote. Once again, the entertainment device hugely satisfied, and I hat tipped to invisible Nexus Q owners sharing similar experience.
Except they won't. Perhaps not anytime soon. For the second time in just two weeks, Google yanked a new product from the Play store. First the 16GB Nexus 7, which is available for sale again, and now the great black sphere -- the Nexus Q. If you preordered, Google won't disappoint. A free one, like the Q I got at Google I/O last month, is headed your way. For everyone else, the device is delayed, its status changed to "coming soon" at Google Play.
Google's first consumer electronics device is a baffling beast. Its industrial design shames Apple TV, Roku and other cloud-connected set-top devices, while the user interface will confuse some people accustomed to a single remote to scan content on the big screen. Nexus Q is all about the cloud and smartphone. The TV's role is viewing, and little more. Price is another matter -- $299, same as Apple TV at launch more than five years ago. But that device sells for $99 today, and, granted, offers far fewer options to delight videophiles and audiophiles.
Nexus Q's promise: Your content anytime and anywhere there is a cloud connection -- and your friends' and families', too. Google calls the device the "first social streaming media player", and there's truth in the claim. But many of the basic streaming and control functions can be achieved simply by connecting your smartphone to the television. If you're going to use the handset as remote anyway, you could just as easily use it as source. That said, Nexus Q is delightful and its concepts represent a leap forward for media player industrial and user-interface design.
Last week, Google unveiled its first consumer electronics device -- Nexus Q. If Steve Jobs were still alive and had announced the same product as "one more thing", there would be headlines everywhere that Apple had done it again -- that the fruit-logo company raised the bar and demonstrated its brilliance at design and innovation.
Nexus Q is a remarkable product. The sphere changes fundamental concepts about entertainment. Content is in the cloud. Smartphones control the device, and they're also where users interact with content (e.g., small versus big screen). Users can share, say, music on the same device -- not one but anyone is in control -- and all without wonky, local digital rights management. Nexus Q attaches to any modern TV or sound system, and because content is in the cloud it's available anywhere the device goes. The sphere is beautifully constructed, too. But Jobs didn't unveil the sphere, someone whose name you don't even recognize did. As such, Nexus Q is largely ignored because stigma is attached: Apple didn't invent it.
Since December 1998, when on impulse I bought the original iMac from CompUSA, I've used Apple gear. No longer. Late yesterday, I replaced the last fruit-logo with another, fulfilling my pledge nearly a month ago to boycott Apple. I wanted to declare independence sooner, but with so much news to write about in June and Google I/O last week, researching and replacing the AirPort base station was too much trouble. But it's offline now -- and, along with Apple TV, going on Craigslist today.
Circumstances since choosing to boycott make me all the more adamant. Last week, US District Judge Lucy Koh issued two preliminary injunctions against Samsung devices -- Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Nexus. Yesterday she denied Samsung's request to stay the ban pending appeal. Anticipating Nexus' similar fate, Google swiftly responded by pulling the phone from its online store and dispatching an update to existing phones. I chose to boycott being so angry by Apple's aggressive patent bullying that thwarts competition and takes away consumer choice. Today, I celebrate America's independence anniversary by gaining freedom from Apple.
I've covered lots of events over the years, but few as exciting as Google I/O 2012. Seriously, the cloud computing giant innovates in ways that, well, people attribute to Apple. There's a very aspirational quality about presentations so far, right down to the hard-knuckle coding sessions. You can feel a real sense of empowerment in the air -- that somehow these developers, and the customers they create products for, will have better lives for participating in this ecosystem.
Like yesterday, I will liveblog the keynote, which begins at 10 am PDT (1 pm Eastern Time) and post in reverse chronological order, meaning the newest stuff will be one top. But it's hard to imagine how Google could out-do yesterday's stunning presentation. Still, there is much ground to cover -- Chrome, Chrome OS, Google TV and the rumored Amazon Web Services-like platform, to name a few. There are still two days of sessions yet. Check back and refesh often.
If Boxee shook up the design world by turning the standard set-top box form factor into an odd geometric shape, Google has completely eliminated the "box" from the equation, and unveiled the Nexus Q, a streaming home entertainment hub for connecting your TV to your Android devices and to Google Play for content distribution.
I'm here in San Francisco, undeterred by cancelled and delayed flights, and it's madness. At 7 am PDT, when the doors were supposed to open, the line wrapped around and down the block and around the next one. Man, you should have come. I/O closes an exciting month of developer events -- Apple's WWDC, Microsoft's TechEd, Windows Phone and surprise Surface announcement. But the last word goes to Google, which is expected today to debut the Nexus tablet, expand cloud services and delight with lots more. I'm too rushed to go through them all.
The keynote commences at 9:30 am PDT -- that's 12:30 pm Eastern Time, and all updates here will be in chronological order reversed -- meaning newest first. You'll want to refresh often.