The Google I/O conference for developers kicked off on June 27th with a steady rollout of new Google products – including one of special note to music lovers, the Nexus Q. Billed as “the world’s first social streaming device,” the Nexus Q is also the first product to hit the market that Google designed from the ground up.
Nexus Q, which slightly resembles the Death Star from Star Wars, streams media such as music and movies from Google’s cloud service, Google Play, as well as from YouTube. It’s controlled wirelessly from any Android device. It’s a social experience, in that friends can also control the same Nexus Q from their Android devices (i.e. if a friend wants to DJ during your BBQ, they can do it directly from their smartphone and it will stream to your home stereo system). If another friend doesn’t like the music, they can step in with their own selections and move them to the front of the playlist using their own Android devices. Nexus Q is now available for pre-order in the U.S. from Google Play and will begin shipping in mid-July. It retails for $299.
Also unveiled was the heavily-rumored new seven-inch Google-branded tablet, Nexus 7, which was also designed specifically for Google Play. Similar to the Kindle Fire, the new Nexus 7 will gel nicely with content additions to the Google Play store that were announced during the keynote, including digital magazine subscriptions, TV shows and movie purchases. Nexus 7 is now available for pre-order for $199 and will ship in mid-July.
Developers were audibly “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing” during the unveiling of the newest Android operating system, Jelly Bean (Android 4.1). The new system will utilize Google Now, which achieves the next level of intuitive, personalized interaction: Google Now predicts the next word the user is going to type before he/she starts typing it. It will offer offline voice typing so users no longer need a data connection to use Google’s voice services; they can compose an email by voice, even in airplane mode. If activated, Google Now will tell exactly when users need to leave their current location to make it to an appointment in time. If there’s traffic, it can reroute automatically. It will suggest lunch spots in areas that are unfamiliar and, when one is chosen, it can make menu recommendations based on reviews as well as users’ own search histories. Google Now can even update on scores for favorite sports teams, without the user ever telling it what those teams are – it just knows.
But the star of the keynote address was Project Glass. Google co-founder Sergey Brin staged a faux-Kanye West moment when he interrupted the keynote while wearing the latest Google Glass prototype over his eyes. The head-mounted computer, which looks like a futuristic pair of glasses, has a built-in camera, speaker and microphone. To demonstrate some of Project Glass’s possibilities, a team of parachuters jumped out of a blimp above San Francisco wearing the device. As they landed on the roof of the Moscone West center, where the conference is being held, the entire audience of 6,000 was able to see their jumps in real-time and from their perspectives. They also were able to communicate with Brin using their Glass headgear throughout the jump. While Project Glass is still in development, Google offered pre-orders of the latest prototype to developers at the conference for $1,500.