At a press conference dubbed "Breakfast With Sundar," Google announced two new pieces of hardware and a minor revision to Android. Complete stories and commentary are still coming in, but in the mean time you can skim a liveblog
First is the new Nexus 7. The hardware is slightly improved (full HD screen, better graphics, etc.). The specs managed to "leak" hours before the event
through Best Buy opening preordering too early. On the software side, they've announced a minor revision to Android, 4.3
. It features improved Bluetooth support (including Bluetooth 4.0), OpenGL ES 3.0, enhanced internationalization, enhanced
DRM, and multi-user support. The multi-user support looks most exciting: now you can share a tablet with more than one person. One of the features Google focused on was restricted profiles: a device owner can create accounts that e.g. cannot make in-app purchases (Junior won't rack up a $3000 bill again). Bad news: Google is implementing stricter DRM for books and video, locking down the entire video stack. The consolation prize is that Netflix will work on more devices and at 1080p. Also demoed were a new version of Chrome that brings the tablet experience closer to the desktop, improved hangouts, and improved maps. Google also appears to be making a push into gaming, emphasizing tablet-only games that integrate into Google+. In addition to gaming, they have secured deals with five major textbook publishers to sell students presumably DRMed electronic textbooks that can be purchased or rented, enhanced with better search and highlighting (because PDF readers don't support those features already
). As usual lately, all of the really nice additions to Android are proprietary and tied to Google services, further eroding the open nature of Android.
Finally, they announced a tiny $35 dongle named Chromecast that appears to be the successor of the Nexus Q. Running Chrome OS, it connects to any HDMI port, finds your Wi-Fi network, and Just Works (tm) for online video. The online and mobile Youtube and Netflix interfaces will allow you to hit a single button and forward the video to your television as well. Google Music streaming to the television is also supported. The Chromecast looks like a handy little device, hopefully it is turns out it can be reflashed. Of course, when using your browser as a remote, all of the commands go through The Cloud. An SDK and more details on the software side of things are slated for release later today, although conspiciously absent on their supported platforms list is GNU/Linux, listing only Chrome OS and Android. Update: 07/24 18:01 GMT
by U L
: The Chromecast SDK is out
, but with an awfully restrictive license that requires written permission from Google to distribute any cast enabled applications, which appears to make it completely incompatible with Free/Open Source software.