Our coverage of the Google event covering new features in Android 4.3, the new Nexus 7 tablet, and introduces Chromecast.
Android 4.3 improves upon the multi-user experience from 4.2. In 4.3 they introduced the concept of restrictive profiles. This feature lets you restrict users on a profile level. With this feature apps can hide all the purchasing options. This means that parents can prevent kids from even knowing if there is something to purchase.
Android 4.3 introduces Bluetooth Smart support. This technology lets you pair your tablet with low-power devices like fitness sensors.
OpenGL ES 3.0 which allows for remarkable graphics. The demo showed the ability for app developers to include J.J. Abrams style lens flares in their games.
New DRM APIs allow for content providers to lock down content at the hardware level. Netflix is the first content provider to take advantage of this with their new app.
Android 4.3 is coming today to all Nexus devices. Based on past behavior on Verizon’s part, Nexus device owners on Verizon are likely to see a hold up in the release.
Google officially announced the second-generation Nexus 7 tablet. Unfortunately Best Buy jumped the gun and listed the Nexus 7 pre-order before the event.
The original Nexus 7 accounted for more than 10% of the Android tablet market.
The new Nexus 7, again from ASUS, is 2 mm thinner than the original Nexus 7. It is 50 grams lighter. The resolution is now 1920×1200 at 323 ppi for true 1080p HD. This is an upgrade from the 1280×800 at 216 ppi.
The front facing camera is 1.2 MP and the rear camera is 5 MP. It ships with a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2 GB of RAM, dual band Wi-Fi, and 4G LTE. This 4G LTE device can run on any carrier in the US
Google Play Updates
The most important new update to Google Play is the upgrade to games on Android. The new Google Play Games app is now a new hub for games on Android. The new app lets you easily connect with your friends and games. You can connect easily with your friends through Google+ circles.
Another new category to Google Play is Textbooks. Textbooks are available for purchase. You can rent a textbook for 6 months with an 80% discount. These textbooks come from all 5 major textbook publishers.
Chromecast is a new 2″ dongle running Chrome OS that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port. With Chromecast you can send YouTube, Google Play Video, or Netflix videos to your TV using your phone, tablet, or laptops by pressing the Cast button. The operating system does not matter. Chromecast works with Android, iOS, and Windows devices using the Chrome web browser.
The volume button on a phone controls the volume on the TV. The Cast feature does not simply repeat what you see on your device. A user can cast the video from their phone and then find another video and list it to the queue. Any device in your home can become a remote control for the television. If a second person in the room can add a video to the queue.
With Chromecast it does not matter if the original device has left the room. Videos continue to run and another user can use their device to control the television.
Chromecast is not limited to videos. Chromecast supports audio apps such as Pandora and Google Play Music.
It also supports the ability to display a web page on your TV using Chrome. Simply press the cast button in Chrome and the content appears on your screen. You can load a video on the screen and then create a new tab to continue browsing the web.
Chromecast will retail for $35 in the US today. Amazon, Google Play, and Best Buy have it up for order today. It will appear in Best Buy stores across the US on July 28th. A purchase of a Chromecast device comes with a three-month free subscription to Netflix.
For a device like this at that price there is only one thing that I have to say:
What are your thoughts? Do you care about the new features introduced in Android 4.3? Will you purchase the new Nexus 7 or the Chromecast devices? Please share your thoughts.