Google teams with Asus on upgraded Android 4.3-based Nexus 7

Google teams with Asus on upgraded Android 4.3-based Nexus 7

Summary: Behold the long-awaited Android 4.3 (a.k.a. Jelly Bean). Google Play is also finally getting textbooks.


SAN FRANCISCO -- Less than a week after sending out invites to the media with virtually no details other than a location, date, time and name of the host, Google unveiled on Wednesday morning what was still a terribly kept secret: the next generation of the Nexus 7.

That host was Google senior vice president Sundar Pichai, who now oversees the Android unit following Andy Rubin's departure from the department in March. Pichai continues to lead the Chrome and Apps team as well.

See also: CNET's live blog: 'Breakfast with Sundar'

Thus, given Pichai's role at Google, rumors started to run rampant that we were getting a new Nexus tablet, another Chromebook, or a new version of Android (or maybe all of the above) considering these items were virtually absent from the lengthy Google I/O keynote back in June.

The morning kicked off with the promise of both Android and Chrome announcements.

Commencing with Android, Pichai cited IDC, Gartner and internal Google data that by the end of 2013, consumers are going to buy more tablets than both consumer and corporate PCs. The forecast is 70 million activations by year's end.

Suffice to say, Google has plenty of motivation to finally treat its Nexus 7 tablet with its first major overhaul in a year since it debuted at I/O 2012.


The biggest upgrade here is the addition of long-awaited Android version 4.3, also known as Jelly Bean.

Here's a rundown on the new device made in partnership with Asus:

  • Same 7.02-inch display size but with more pixels: 1,920 X 1,200-pixel resolution, or 323 pixels per inch (touted by the Android team to be the "world's highest resolution 7-inch tablet")
  • 30 percent wider range of colors
  • Dual stereo speakers with Fraunhofer surround sound technology
  • 1.2-megapixel front camera
  • 5-megapixel rear camera
  • 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset
  • 1.8 times faster CPU, 4 times faster GPU
  • System memory doubled to 2GB of RAM
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 4G LTE (single U.S. model)
  • HDMI output
  • NFC
  • Wireless charging
  • Battery life: One extra hour of power compared to previous generation (up to nine hours of HD video playback and 10 hours of browsing)
  • Multi-user access with restricted profiles that can control access to content and apps at a user level
  • DRM APIs
  • Available in three different models: 16GB Wi-Fi ($229), 32GB Wi-Fi ($269), 32GB 4G LTE model ($349) from T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon
  • Ships July 30 in stores and online in the U.S.
  • International launch in the "coming weeks"

Google will also be pushing a software update (including Android 4.3) to existing Nexus (i.e. Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, etc.) devices over-the-air starting today.

While there is onboard storage matched with plenty of wireless access points, the Nexus 7 still heavily depends a direct source of content: Google Play.

Now counting more than 50 million downloads, Google's digital storefront for music, movies, books and apps is arguably doing pretty well.

Just in time for the back-to-school season, Google is adding a much-needed section that helps it further compete with Apple iTunes.

That is the addition of selling digital textbooks.

Set to roll out in early August, Google Play Textbooks will host digital titles from "all five major publishing houses" with the ability to purchase or rent books for up to six months with up to 80 percent off in potential discounts.

Images: James Martin, CNET

Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • Nice to know that they're avoiding Samsung.

    Asus is a fairly reliable company, as their previous Nexus and PCs will tell you.

    Samsung's build-quality has been a hit-or-miss (S2 was amazing, S3/4 was not).

    I hope that the next Nexus phone will be made by LG or Sony.
    • I think

      It was already announced as being LG to make the next Nexus. However, there are more neo-nexii coming. Multiple user configurable clean phones from motorola. They already announced the first one, the Moto-X.
  • Content Consumption Gadget

    Another content consumption gadget for low-tech users. Big deal. Where are the columns on real know...the ones that create the apps?
    Sean Foley
    • Because...

      ...the group of people you're talking about may be the world's smallest market share.
    • General Interest

      PCs change by tiny increments. They're in a fully mature market, and there's rarely if ever someone doing something interesting with the technology, aside from the occasional chip upgrade. Though I do recall a bunch of Mac Pro articles a few weeks ago. Even as uneventful as that system was for most people, it was without question the most interesting PC anyone's announced this year.

      Tablets and smartphones are still a rapidly evolving technology. Change is interesting... announcing a 3.2GHz processor now available replacing the 3.0GHz CPU from six months ago.. not so much. When whole new CPUs ship, for mobile or desktop, of course ZDNet and others will have articles (though you'll need Tom's Hardware, ARS Technica, AnandTech, etc. if you really want to know about such things).

      And it's also about general interest. There are close to 4x as many smartphones being sold as PCs every year, and tablets (which generally run the same OS, of course) are likely to outsell PCs (not just desktops -- all x86 PCs) in 2014 if not 2013.

      I have a tablet, and I'm about as techie and professional as one can get. I design computer systems in my day job, I use workstation-class PCs for photography, video, and music creation. None of these things are good ideas on a tablet... but they're not much better on a laptop. This kind of work needs screen real-estate, and once you have 2 or 3 big screens, there's no going back. My tablet is a great replacement for the things my laptop did well. And more. I can bring it along to the lab to read datasheets, without it getting in the way. I can bring it along on vacation with 40 lbs of books, magazines, and guitar music taking up just that one and a quarter pounds... and use it to stay in touch with the outside world. I can take notes in meetings, and with a screen pen, better notes than either on a laptop or on paper. I can surf the net while watching TV. It's all good... and cheap enough that yeah, I could upgrade five tablets for the price of just a new motherboard/CPU for my desktop (not that they're replacements for one another).
  • Más de lo mismo...Other version....

    No hay nada nuevo....There isn't new....
  • so...

    So no sprint version? and if there's a Verizon model, does that mean that the next nexus phone will have a Verizon version? Will it still get timely software updates? O guess forgot had Motorola to use as leverage over big red now, but I'm still skeptical that Verizon nexus devices will get immediate software updates. Even six weeks wait is better than six months wait!
    • Re: So no sprint version?

      That's the trouble with the US market: everything has to come in a carrier-specific version, mustn't it.
      • Sorta....

        The GSM carriers are finally compatible enough... AT&T and T-Mobile both use 1900MHz for 3G (AT&T also has 850MHz, T-Mobile moved from 1700/2100MHz), and AT&T now runs LTE at 1700/2100MHz, same as T-Mobile, now that they're rolling out LTE (AT&T, like Verizon, also has bandwidth on 700MHz, but not as much as Verizon). So, compatible protocols and compatible frequencies. And SIM cards, so the networks can't lock you out.

        Sprint and Verizon have a similar 3G overlap, but use different frequencies for LTE. But the big problem is their networks... rather than SIM cards, network IDs are built in to their hardware, and they can ID a native versus foreign network ID (even given that LTE devices need SIM cards, they still have the 3G ID). So they're not compatible.

        Some of this is artificial. Yes, frequencies are still some issue, but given that every carrier is now on LTE for 4G (Sprint is phasing out WiMax) and at least Qualcomm makes chips that can do GSM or CDMA2000, there's no technical reason one couldn't have a universal cellular device for the USA. But Verizon and Sprint networks would probably still reject them.
  • Why...

    If someone is truly interested in an Android tablet, why would that person buy anything except a Nexus? If you buy something else, there's no guarantee that the tablet will get future operating system upgrades and you'll probably have to put up with crapware and perhaps a software layer that takes away from the Android experience.
    • Re: why would that person buy anything except a Nexus?

      Because they have a choice.
    • Re: why would that person buy anything except a Nexus?

      Because they have a choice.
    • Re: why would that person buy anything except a Nexus?

      Because they have a choice.
  • Still no sd card

    • I agree - BUT

      I agree - BUT - you can buy an OTG adapter cable for $2 or $3 to adapt the micro-USB to a full size USB, and install an app (some require root, some don't) to use a flash drive when plugged in.

      I have an 8 gig Nexus 7, which is fine for everyday life - and if I'm traveling for work, I'll load some movies on a 64 gig flash drive and bring the OTG cable with me.
  • Where is SD-card slot ?

    No SD-card external memory ?!

    No SIM- card slot ?!

    Well.... - another cripple junk on the market ? !!!
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