Google came out swinging at today’s developers conference, unveiling a long list of new products to counter Apple and Microsoft’s push into a tablet-friendly living room.
To start things off, Google introduced the Nexus 7, a 7″ tablet running Android 4.1 that will retail for $199 — clearly competing with the Kindle Fire. To accompany the announcement, Google said it’s bringing TV, movies, and magazine purchases to Google Play. (Previously, movies have been available for rental only). Google inked new deals with Disney, ABC, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, and Paramount to ensure that Google Play is a growing iTunes competitor.
But the most intriguing new product is something called the Nexus Q, billed as the “first social streaming media player.” It’s a $299 device, shaped like a stylish black ball, that connects Android devices with your TV set via the cloud. It also has a built-in amplifier, so you can plug it straight into your speakers. A bit like Apple’s Airplay, any TV shows, movies or music on your Android phone or tablet can be played on your TV and sound system.
But beyond porting video and music from your tablet, it also allows your friends to create a collaborative playlist — so for example, they could change what you’re playing in your own house. Hmmm. Google also said it will encourage “general hackability” — whatever that means exactly — so developers can create some unique social experiences.
What does this mean for Google TV? The Nexus Q is a different approach to the problem, and it should attract a different audience (although that $299 price tag compared to $99 Apple TV and $49 Roku boxes may be tough to swallow.) Bottom line here, Google has just stepped up its efforts to play hardball in the living room.
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