Google on Wednesday unveiled the Nexus 7 tablet during its keynote presentation at the annual Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco, California. The company’s first own-brand tablet is intended to help Android take a bigger bite out of the consumer tablet market Apple’s iPad revived in 2010, but it may also end up pushing some of Google’s Android partners out of the picture by undercutting them.
Months of leaks leading up to Wednesday’s announcement left little unknown, but Google’s Nexus slate is now official. Built by ASUS, the tablet will launch running the newly unveiled Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system, which adds a variety of new functionality to Google’s mobile platform. Specs include a 1280 x 800-pixel high-definition display, a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, a GeForce 12-core GPU, a front-facing camera, integrated NFC, 1GB of RAM and a battery that lasts up to 9 hours during video playback.
“Nexus 7 is made for Google play,” according to Google, which has adopted a model very similar to the one employed by Amazon with its Kindle Fire tablet. Google Play store content is pushed to the forefront of the user experience, and Google has introduced a new recommendations engine and custom recommendation widgets that can be placed on the user’s home screen to help them discover new content.
The Nexus 7 will be the first device to ship with the mobile version of Google’s Chrome Web browser pre-installed, replacing the current Android browser, and the tablet will also ship with the latest version of Google Maps, which includes offline map capabilities.
Google’s Nexus 7 tablet starts at $199 and it is available for preorder starting immediately. The tablet will begin shipping in the U.S., Canada and Australia in mid-July.