Yesterday marked the beginning of Google I/O, the annual developer conference held by Google, and the event kicked off with an epic 3-hour-plus keynote presentation. Unlike last year, it was heavily focused on the software side, but there was one, single hardware announcement.
No, it wasn’t an updated version of the Nexus 7 tablet as we had expected, but a special edition of the Samsung Galaxy S4. Hugo Barra, Google’s Vice President of Android Product Management, introduced the phone just over an hour into the show, and it’s unique as the TouchWiz user interface has been completely removed, leaving standard Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
In the absence of a new Nexus phone at Google I/O, this is the next best thing, as the Galaxy S4 is more powerful, and has a better screen and camera than the Nexus 4; making it difficult for Google to beat it on paper. Instead, it has made a simple alteration, which should prove popular with Android fans.
What’s more, Barra promised the Google Galaxy S4 would receive prompt version updates in the future, something its TouchWiz-enabled cousin probably won’t be able to match. Google will sell the phone through Google Play, just like its Nexus phones, and it’ll come with an unlocked bootloader for developer use.
At the moment, Google has only announced availability of the phone in America, where it’ll go on sale June 26 for $650. That converts over to about £430, if the phone does make it to the UK. Aside from the Galaxy S4, Google didn’t make any other new hardware announcements, or show off a new version of Android.