Google unveils Nexus 7 tablet device

Google launched its first tablet device, the Nexus 7, at a developers conference in San Francisco Wednesday.
Google's new tablet, the Nexus 7, has a slim seven-inch (17 cm) display and weighs about 340 grams. In Canada, it will sell for $209 for an 8 GB version and $259 for a 16 GB version. (Google Inc.)

Google has announced its first tablet device, the Nexus 7, at a developers conference in San Francisco Wednesday.

The slim, 340-gram tablet unveiled at the start of the three-day Google I/O conference will run the company's new Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system.

In Canada, it will sell for $209 for an 8 GB version and $259 for a 16 GB version and should ship within two to three weeks if pre-ordered at the Google Play online store.

The device has a 1.2-megapixel front camera, a Tegra 3 processor, a seven-inch (17 cm) 1280 x 800 HD display and a battery life of eight hours.

It was manufactured by the Taiwanese computer company Asus.

Kindle competitor

The device is the second new tablet to be launched this month after Microsoft's Surface but is a more likely competitor to Amazon's Kindle Fire, which runs on Google's Android operating system, rather than Surface or the much more expensive iPad. (Microsoft has said its tablet will be similarly priced to the iPad.)

The Google tablet will be able to access content from Google Play, formerly the Android Market, the company's online store for music, movies, books and mobile applications.

Google announced the addition of TV shows, movies and, eventually, magazines to Google Play Wednesday in a long-overdue attempt to catch up to the much wider selection of content on offer in the Apple and Amazon online stores. 

Streaming orb

Day 1 of the conference also saw the launch of Nexus Q, an orb-shaped media streaming device that connects to the internet through your wireless network and streams content from YouTube and Google Play.

The Nexus Q is Google's take on the usually box-shaped streaming players launched by other companies. It can stream Google content to your TV, stereo or speakers. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)

It plugs into your TV, stereo system or speakers and is controlled by an Android smartphone or the Nexus 7 tablet.

It has 1GB of RAM, 16GB of flash memory and runs on the same processor as the tablet.

The Nexus Q will start shipping in two to three weeks in the U.S., at a price of $299 US, but is not yet available in Canada.

Google also highlighted several upgrades in the new version of its mobile operating system, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, including a geo-aware app called Google Now that shares some similarities with Apple's Siri service.

The app taps into all kinds of data relevant to your current physical location and provides you with up-to-date information on everything from the time of the flight or bus you're waiting for to menu recommendations at whatever restaurant you happen to be eating at.

Overall, Google said Jelly Bean will be a faster operating system with a more user-friendly home screen that keeps your apps better organized.

It also has a new camera application that allows you to review photos at the same time you're taking them and a voice-dictation app that works offline.