Google unveils new Nexus 7 as tablet market explodes

Google aims to take advantage of the explosion in global tablet sales by launching a thinner, faster and improved version of its Nexus 7 device.

Hugo Barra, vice president of Android product management at Google, holds the new Nexus 7 tablet.

Google unveiled Wednesday its new Nexus 7 tablet, a slimmer device featuring better battery life, a faster processor and surround sound, in a bid to grab a greater share of the tablet market.

The tablet market has exploded in the past several years and Google wants to ensure its device remains relevant and more attractive to consumers than Apple's iPad or Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets.

Consumers are projected to buy more tablets every year than personal computers by the end of 2013, according to data shared by Sundar Pichair, a senior vice president overseeing Android and Chrome, during Google's event in San Francisco. Google provided a live stream of the event on YouTube.

The new Nexus 7, which will be available in retail stores beginning July 30, is 2 millimeters thinner than the original. The tablet still has a 7-inch display, but is narrower by 6 mm, said Hugo Barra, vice president of Android product management at Google, during the event. It's also the first Android device to ship with its newest version of software, Jellybean 4.3.

Google added dual stereo speakers, front and rear facing cameras, extended the battery life to nine hours of HD video playback and 10 hours web browsing, and a 1080p high resolution screen. Its processor also has been upgraded and the device includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth options.

The new tablet, which costs $229 for 16 gigabytes of storage and $269 for 32 gigabytes, is priced to compete with Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle. Apple's 8-inch 16-GB mini iPad is $329 and its 32GB version is $429.

One of the cooler features is the tablet's ability to create restricted profiles. Parents can set limits for kids, restricting their ability to access certain content or buy a bunch of apps. Barra noted the restricted profiles could also be useful for point-of-sale systems or at retail kiosks, where one Nexus 7 could be used by employees with varying levels of access.

Photo and graphic: Screenshot from Google webcast

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