Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Google unveils the 2013 Nexus 7, Android 4.3, Google Play Games app

The Nexus 7 and Android 4.3 -- as expected -- were introduced at Google's "Breakfast with Sundar" on Wednesday morning. Although almost everything was known about the new version of the Nexus 7 via Best Buy's pre-order outing of the device, there were still some surprises shared by Google.

For one thing, pricing was correct, at $229 and $269, but previously, the price for the expected cellular-capable version was not known. That price, Google said, will be $349.

In addition, you might recall that the original Nexus 7 had a cellular-capable version, but it didn't support LTE and there were two versions, one for T-Mobile's frequencies and another for AT&T. The new Nexus 7 supports LTE, is unlocked, and one model will support Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T.

As far as what the device will be called, it will simply be the Nexus 7. As Google showed in its presentation, the only difference would be Nexus 7 (2012) vs. Nexus 7 (2013). There was a reference to the "new" Nexus 7 during the event, but that wasn't meant to mean Google would do the same thing that Apple did, and name the device the "new Nexus 7."

In addition to introducing the Nexus 7, Google introduced Android 4.3. The Nexus 7 will be the first device to ship with this new variant of Android. However, the new Jelly Bean variant will be hitting original Nexus 7s, Nexus 4s, Nexus 10s, and Galaxy Nexus devices starting today, the company added.

The Google Play Editiuons (GPe) of the HTC One and Galaxy S4 will get the update OTA, "very soon," as well.

Android 4.3, as you might expect, is a relatively minor update to Android. One big change is Restricted Profiles in multi-user settings. Think of it as the ability to have profiles much as in Windows, where you can have Administrator accounts or User accounts.

Bluetooth Smart (or Bluetooth Low Energy) support was introduced as one of the new features of Android 4.3. Android 4.3 also adds OpenGL ES 3.0 support, which Google's Hugo Barra correctly called "a big deal for game developers." The demo at the event was impressive.

In addition, the company announced Google Play Games, which simply put, is Android’s answer to iOS' GameCenter. This new app is directly related to the Google I/O of Google Play games services, which allows developers to add cloud saves, achievements and multiplayer features into their apps.

As you'd expect, Google Play Games is a front end for viewing leader boards and connecting with your Google+ friends (you didn't expect us to say Facebook, did you?).

You can:
  • Discover games
  • Play with your friends, and see what they're playing
  • Join multiplayer games
  • Track your achievements
  • Compare scores with other players
Already available in the Play Store, Google Play Games will also ship natively on the Nexus 7.

A slideshow of images from the event can be seen here.

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