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Google unveils new Nexus 7 tablet, apps, and Chromecast

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Google Nexus 7 Reveal
Tony Avelar/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Google’s got some good news for tech-happy binge-watchers and gamers: The Mountainview, Calif.-based company held a “breakfast” meeting Wednesday to unveil the second generation Nexus 7, new Android updates, and the new Chromecast TV-streaming device, which aims to solve the age-old “How can I watch this awesome cat video on my big screen?” problem.

Hosted by Sundar Pichai, senior vice president overseeing Android, Chrome, and apps, the conference was live-streamed via YouTube and ran over an hour.

Pichai opined on the ubiquity of their Android operating system and the growing trend of tablet purchases eclipsing personal computer purchases. With consumers populating mobile, tablet, and laptop fronts, “Our goal is to deliver an experience that is seamless and consistent and beautiful across all these screens,” said Pichai.

First on the hardware front, Google announced the specs for the new Nexus 7 (on sale July 30), which will improve the gaming and movie-watching experience:

  • Almost 2 mm thinner than first generation
  • 50 grams lighter
  • Full HD with 1080mp
  • 30 percent wider range of colors
  • Dual stereo speakers
  • same 7-inch display size but with more pixels
  • front and rear facing cameras
  • doubled memory, now 2GB
  • 1 extra hour of battery life
  • Up to 9 hours video playback
  • CPU is 80% faster
  • went from 216 pixel/inch to 323 pixel/inch

The new Nexus 7 will retail for: $229 for 16GB wifi, $269 for 32GB wifi, and $349 for 32GB LTE.

On the software front, Hugo Barra, VP of Android product management, unveiled the newest version of Android OS, Android 4.3 Jellybean. In a coup for helicopter parents, Google added “restricted profiles,” which enable users to control access to certain content, like non-PG apps. For fitness freaks, the new OS allows you to pair your Android phone or tablet with low-powered fitness sensors, where you can track your heart rate — you know, if simply touching your wrist is too old-school. Gamers can get a taste of more hyper-real images on their video games, where stubble, and face shadows are now more realistic than ever, aside from looking at yourself in the mirror.

Among the improved Google Drive for Android, higher-resolution Google Chrome, and new apps in Google Play, perhaps the most exciting development is Google’s solution for eliminating the need for HDMI cables and disruptive TV-streaming devices: Chromecast.

Available for purchase starting this afternoon for $35 (from Amazon, Google Play, and Best Buy), Chromecast is a 2-inch device resembling a flash drive that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port and syncs with phones, laptops, and tablets via cloud. (It works with Android, Chrome, and iOS devices).

Once Chromecast is plugged into your TV, apparently you never have to leave your couch. You can use your phone, laptop, or tablet as a remote control to pull up YouTube to watch videos, Pandora to listen to music — all on the big screen, while still also checking your email, researching random facts, and evidently, capitulating the need for social interaction or fresh air, ever.

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