The rumours have proven to be correct, as Google announced the Nexus 7 tablet at a marathon Google I/O keynote presentation, filled with new products, new software and even skydivers.
Built not to take on the Apple iPad, but the Amazon Kindle Fire, it has a 7-inch screen with a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution and a NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor. As expected, it only has a forward-facing video call camera and no 3G connectivity, but it does have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC.
Google Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will be pre-installed on the tablet, but in the videos it appears the normal homescreen has been heavily modified, and will possibly not look like it would on any other Android tablet.
The battery should provide enough power for 9 hours of video playback, and a total of 300 hours standby. A 12-core graphics chip, gyroscope, accelerometer and that Tegra 3 processor will make it great for gaming too.
Google partnered with Asus to make the Nexus 7, and its lightweight chassis means it weighs just 340 grams, roughly half of the iPad and even less than the Kindle Fire, which tips the scales at 413 grams.
For the first time on any device, Google Chrome will be the default browser, plus the magazine-style newsreader Google Currents will be pre-installed, along with an optimised YouTube client, Google Maps and intelligent widgets. These include a Shazam-style music identifier (which leads you to the Google Music store) and content suggestions that learn to provide more relevant results based on your selections.
So why is it Google’s response to the Fire and not the iPad? It’s because Google has heavily integrated the Google Play store into the Nexus 7, so it delivers apps, music, movies, eBooks and magazines, all without leaving Google’s ecosystem. It’s exactly the same approach Amazon took with the Fire.
Unlike the Fire, Google will be selling the Nexus 7 in the UK at launch, and it’s available to purchase from Google Play as a pre-order today, where it costs £159 for the 8GB model and £199 for the 16GB, with delivery in mid-July. In the US, buyers will get $25 of Google Play store credit, plus a film, book and a selection of magazines for free, but this has yet to be confirmed here.
Is Amazon planning to launch a new Kindle soon, and will it be made available in the UK? They may have left it a little too late if so.