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Google Goes Large with a New Android Tablet

As Apple shrinks down the iPad, Google unveils a larger Android tablet, along with an improved smaller tablet and a new smartphone.

As the popularity of tablet computing grows, the most successful tablets are likely to shape the way people access information and digital content. Google’s new Nexus tablets and smartphone put it in even closer competition with Apple and Amazon within this landscape.

On Monday, Google unveiled a 10-inch touch screen tablet built by Samsung called the Nexus 10, priced at $399 or $499, depending on storage capacity. The new tablet follows on the heels of the seven-inch Nexus 7, which Google built with Asus and rolled out over the summer. The Nexus 10 will be available through the Google Play store starting November 13.

Big deal: Google unveiled a 10-inch Android tablet, a new version of its seven-inch tablet, and a new smartphone on Monday.

The announcement comes just a week after Apple said it will start selling the iPad Mini, a compact version of the iPad with a 7.9-inch touch-screen and starting price of $329. The standard iPad’s screen measures 9.7 inches at the diagonal, and the latest model of that version starts at $499 (see “Live Updates from Apple’s ‘iPad Mini’ Event”).

Apple, Google, and Amazon are now locked in a three-way fight to snag consumers in the fast-growing tablet market. Although Apple popularized the tablet with the introduction of the iPad in 2010 and is the clear market leader, Google and Amazon have rolled out cheaper devices that are attracting many users—especially price-conscious ones. With the introduction of Google’s larger, more expensive tablet, and Apple’s smaller, cheaper tablet, the competition is likely to get even more heated.

Andy Rubin, Google’s senior vice president of mobile and digital content, announced the new tablet, and several other mobile devices in a blog post on Monday. The devices were going to be introduced at an event in New York, but it was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy.

The Nexus 10 includes a display with resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels—a little higher than the full-sized iPad—and a battery rated for as much as nine hours of video playback (an hour less than the iPad). The new Google tablet can also be set up for several different users, who can log in through the Nexus 10’s lock screen and will see their own home screens, music choices, and high scores in games.

The Nexus 10 will run a new version of Android, version 4.2, which, like Android 4.1, will be referred to as Jelly Bean. It includes an update to Google Now, the virtual assistant software first introduced this summer on the Galaxy Nexus smartphone. Google Now rivals Apple’s Siri, but it also anticipates what information a user will need based on his or her location and activity and displays this information, at first mainly traffic and weather updates, as on-screen cards. To ask a question, a user says “Google” to get the tablet or smartphone to start listening.

The updated version of Google Now will include cards that show flight information, hotel confirmations, restaurant reservations, and shipping details. Rubin writes that the service will also show cards for local movie times and concerts by musicians you like.

Rubin also unveiled an updated version of the Nexus 7 tablet, which keeps the original $199 price. There will also be a version with 32 gigabytes for $249, while a version that includes the ability to access high-speed HSPA+ networks will cost $299.

Rubin also announced the Nexus 4 smartphone, which Google developed with LG. The phone has a 4.7-inch display and can be charged wirelessly. It will cost $199 in the U.S. with a two-year T-Mobile contract (unlocked versions will also be available for $249 or $349, depending on storage capacity).

Like the Nexus 10, the Nexus 4 and the new Nexus 7 will run Android 4.2 and will be available November 13.

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