Google Announces Android 4.2, New Nexus Tablets, Phone

The new Nexus 4 phone and Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets keep the competition fierce in the tablet world. Google claims the Nexus 10 tablet has "the highest resolution tablet on the planet," meaning higher than the Retina display in the iPad.

In an official blog post originally intended to be the substance of an event held in New York City today, Google made new across-the-board announcements for Android and its Nexus lineup of Android devices. The event was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.

Android 4.2: The latest rev of Android "Jelly Bean" is preloaded into the new Nexus devices. Among the new features in 4.2:

  • Gestural typing a la Swype.
  • Support for Miracast wireless displays, which allows video content to be broadcast to TVs that support this Wi-Fi based standard. Samsung's Galaxy S III and LG's Optimus G are two other phones that have Miracast support.
  • Photo Sphere, a camera software app that allows automatic creation of 360-degree panoramas.
  • Multiple users. A given device (such as the Nexus 10 tablet described below) can be set up to work with more than one user, and can be switched between them at the lock screen in much the same manner as a Windows desktop.
  • Beam, which allows NFC-equipped Android smartphones to exchange data by simply being tapped back to back.
  • Improvements for visually-impaired users.
  • Various under-the-hood performance enhancements.

Nexus 4: The latest iteration of the Nexus smartphone, manufactured by LG, boasts a quad-core processor, a 4.7" display, and wireless charging. It's $299 for the 8GB model, $349 for the 16GB model. The latter will be offered through T-Mobile and other carriers with a new two-year contract.

Nexus 7 and Nexus 10: The 7" and 10" Nexus tablets each come sporting their own attractions. The 7 comes in 16 GB ($199) and 32 GB ($249) models, with the latter also available in an HSPA+ mobile data version ($299), with AT&T being one of the listed carriers for the service. The 10 boasts a 2560x1600 pixel screen, "the highest resolution tablet on the planet," claims Google.

Google Now: Google's time- and location-based information organization app also got a boost, and now includes "flight information, restaurant reservations, hotel confirmations and shipping details" as well as "cards for nearby attractions, interesting photo spots, [and] movie times at nearby theaters or concerts by your favorite artists."

Google also announced the expansion of Google Play to more countries -- Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Australia, with all of the above plus Germany and Italy getting access to the music store on Google Play. More video content is also part of the deal, with the Twentieth Century Fox library of TV shows and movies being added to the mix.

Speculation abounded before the event as to whether the new revision of Android being announced would be a tweak to Jelly Bean or the vaunted next version of Android, code named Key Lime Pie. Given that all of the changes rumored to appear in KLP are now part of the 4.2 branch of Jelly Bean -- all of the rumored KLP devices, too, are simply Jelly Bean 4.2 devices -- it's not clear what KLP itself will bring to the table when it's announced for real.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing