TECH TALK

Google’s new products aim to grab attention


Published: Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.

You have to jump pretty high to get the tech world's attention away from that shiny Apple.

Need proof? Google co-founder Sergey Brin sent a friend jumping from a plane a mile high over San Francisco for a live demo of the company's futuristic Project Glass glasses to kick off the Google I/O 2012 conference.

You never saw Steve Jobs do that. The stunt was impressive and fitting for a trade show filled with headline-making offerings meant to shift the focus back onto Big G. Here are some of the offerings:

Nexus 7 Tablet: It had to be an ego killer when "little old" Amazon came into tablet town and ate Google's lunch with the Kindle Fire last year. Google finally reloaded with an offering bearing the flagship Nexus name, meaning it's designed with special sauce from the mother ship. You won't find this model among the cheap Android knockoffs behind the Walgreen's cashier.

Google took the recipe from Amazon by having a 7-inch, sub-$200 tablet but came to the kitchen with much better ingredients, and the result is a far tastier offering.

Nexus 7 is faster, sharper and lighter than Kindle Fire, although it's still takeout compared to the fine dining that puts iPad in another class.

Chances are, like Kindle Fire, Google will lose money on the initial sale but hope to make up for it with Google Play purchases within the device. This is indeed an intriguing offering that should become a sales magnet.

Jelly Bean: aka Android 4.1, dubbed "Jelly Bean." This major update to the mobile operating system takes another step toward a less cluttered interface and one that more closely resembles Apple's iOS.

While they can attempt to make it look like an Apple, they need to get away from the way they word their new features. For example, Jelly Bean is enhanced by Project Butter, Google Now, Google Knowledge Graph and Google Cloud Messaging. Say that three times fast.

The reality is that this upgrade features some nice enhancements, including a Siri look-a-like, major upgrades to the Google search system and the notification center, among other things.

Jelly Bean is great if you're buying a new Android or already own a Nexus-branded Android (they get the first updates), but for the millions of others, don't hold your breath waiting for that OTA update.

Nexus Q: With the success of Roku and the apparent lack of success of Google TV, this is a fresh attempt at streaming entertainment from your Android and Google Play libraries and into your home entertainment system.

The device, which oddly resembles the Death Star, has ports to plug in your television and speakers along with the customary Wi-Fi connections.

How does this advance such devices at Roku and Apple TV? It doesn't, especially at a hefty $299 price tag.

This is basically the Android version of Apple TV but, as both ecosystems go, Google usually allows for more hacking and customization, so it might take a generation or two of tweaking before the true potential is reached.

Kudos to Google for making it in the United States, a point they made as an underlying dig on Apple.

Extras: Google also (finally) announced its popular Chrome browser for Apple iOS, along with enhancements to its Google Play marketplace, where movies and television shows will now be available.

The company also announced offline editing for Google Docs and new features for Google+.

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