A Very Google Flavoured Jelly Bean
The Google I/O conference has given us a number of things to look forward to. Android 4.1 aka Jelly Bean for starters, then the Nexus 7 tablet, the Nexus Q media streamer and of course, the rather futuristic Project Glass Explorer glasses.
The Nexus 7 tablet which at $199 for the 8GB model and $249 for the 16GB is clearly priced to compete against the Kindle Fire, particularly in the UK where is will be priced at £159 for the 8GB and £199. No sign of the dollar pound sign swap here!
Google is giving away $25/£15 of credit for the Google Play store to anyone currently purchasing a Nexus 7 and a free copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, clearly pitching the Nexus 7 as a media consumption device, just like the Kindle Fire. However, there is no sign of the Kindle Fire in the UK so perhaps Google is looking to steal a march on Amazon by offering their content to consumers first. It is also important to note that the Kindle Fire does not have access to Google Play so users are restricted to only using apps from Amazon which may prove unpopular now that the Nexus 7 is on the market.
The Jelly Bean announcement also delivered some interesting insights. Google have added an offline mode to their voice recognition software; speech recognition can now be done on the phone as well as in the cloud. More interesting though is the updates to search capabilities. Google have changed the search results page to give a more visual representation of results and they have added predictive capabilities. Google Now, can learn (with user permission of course) about the user from their search terms and locations. It will use this to suggest real time data on things like the weather, how long it might take you to work, bus timetables and sports scores. These get presented on cards inside the Google Now app.
Google Now can also do voice, just like Siri but the addition of the wonderfully designed cards mean that is interactive in ways that Siri is not. Can Siri tell me if my flight is delayed and what gate its going from without me asking? Google Now promises to be a superb organisational tool and I’m already excited at the prospect of giving yet more information to the guys at Mountain View. In fact, that’s an even better prospect than those $1,500 glasses.