The competition - Google's Android 4.1 announcements and a new 7" tablet

Android is currently the thorn in everyone's side—from Apple to Microsoft to RIM—the “free” mobile OS is continuing to dominate and today they added just a little bit more.

For those who weren’t aware, Google I/O kicked off today. It’s their BUILD, their MIX, their random secret Apple announcement where they show off their big plans for Android over the next few months. Here’s the recap of the big news today which will surely keep Redmond on their toes:

Google Nexus 7 – A 7” tablet that is branded by Google themselves. Analogous to their Nexus line of phones, the mini tablet will set the standard for Android going forward and boy, do they need it. Android tablets are currently fairly terrible (we speak from personal experience with the lauded Samsung 10.1) and Google really needs to get their act together here before Microsoft takes a swing with the Surface.

While a 7” tablet is quite meager and far from ideal, Google did win in a couple of areas. For one, they announced the specifications—we mean all the nitty gritty. It has a 1280x800 display, quad-processor, 9 hours of video playback, WiFi, NFC, GPS and Bluetooth.  It also got a price tag at $199 with pre-orders starting today for a mid-July release.

And that’s where Microsoft lost everyone last week—no price and no date on availability. That $199 will guarantee this device gets into a lot of hands. Will it be enough to keep Surface from taking off? We doubt it but it’s not helping either. Think Kindle Fire though as Google’s main target though as opposed to an iPad or Surface. Check out our pal Phil's hands on with the tablet here.

Android 4.1 ‘Jelly Bean’ – Ah yes, the ridiculous names of Android continues and Android 4.1 was shown off today. What’s more, the SDK is now out and available for download too.  Some of the new features include offline voice-to-text dictation, new notifications which expand upon the current model, improved voice search akin to Apple’s Siri, redesigned camera app and a new service that uses your Google data to recommend things.

Is 4.1 killer? No, as the 0.1 bump indicates this is a minor revision and it’s nothing compared to what Microsoft is doing with Windows Phone 8 and the NT kernel. Still, like iOS 6, Android is continuing to build off of their foundation, adding new, somewhat interesting and useful features for consumers.

Jelly Bean 4.1 will be available by mid-July for their Nexus devices but the big question is what about everyone else?  Android has a terrible update record and 4.0 is barely on 10% of devices. In other words, Microsoft has some breathing room here for the fall and its new Windows Phone 8 devices (see, it would have been easier to say “Windows 8 Phones”).

Oh and their unlocked, Galaxy Nexus phone dropped to $350 for those in the US

Google Maps with offline caching – Like the Nokia-Microsoft mapping announcement for Windows Phone 8, users can grab the brand new Google Maps now with offline caching. Powerful stuff

Chrome for Android out of beta – While it’s no IE10, Google took the beta off of Chrome for it’s new Android browser. It should be interesting to see how it compares to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 in the fall.

Nexus Q - Think of it as Google's answer to Nokia's Play 360. A device to stream your music too but price higher. It will fetch for $299 with preorders starting today.

All in all, Google did not announce any game changers, nothing disruptive except for the 7” tablet. That Nexus 7 will do a lot to drop prices on mini-tablets and force Apple and Microsoft to rethink some options in the future but we're not sure it's going to fix Google's problems here.

Google doesn’t  win because it’s better, it wins through market saturation. Read more I/O 2012 coverage at Android Central.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • It can't compare with the surface.
  • No, but it can for $199
  • Quad core for $199 is what will sell the tablet but the outside is plastic so say good buy to your $199 if you drop it, say hi to many scratches & 7inch is just a little bigger than the Samsung note so I don't see that as a tablet replacement more like a huge cellphone with no radio. I would rather buy a surface.
  • Windows Phone Central, how is a WiFi Android Tablet competition?
  • That little form factor at such a small price will shift a lot of units, I get fed up of my galaxy tab 10.1 but even I'd consider a 7incher for this price
  • It is cheap.
  • @ A Social Reject - Well, you see we covered the Surface last week, so this is parity of coverage. It also relevant because Android 4.1 is our competition. You folks in comments are getting nasty lately with your belligerence. If you don't like an article or the topic, please just pass over it. 
  • Surely if anyone wanted Android news they'd click the AndroidCentral button above your logo? I have no idea how Mobile Nations make any money.
  • Surely if I wanted your editorial input, I would have asked for it? We're discussing what Android is doing, what they announced today. If you don't like it, don't want to contribute to the conversation, please move along.
  • I am glad you guys post news of competition and related devices like the surface. I don't have the time or the will to research what is going on with android or IOS so it is nice to get a summary of what they are up to. Thx and keep it coming. :)
  • Welcome!
  • I am surprised no one has still pointed out (including Daniel) that Google's offline caching is no where same as Nokia's offline maps.
    If I believe the post and comments at Android central link in above article, then currently, there is a big difference here between Nokia maps and google maps in terms of offline performance.
    Gizmodo also missed that in their comparison post today. 
  • As a developer, I really like to be updated here on what happens on the other side.Thank you for this article.
  • Jesus....that guy has no a WP supporter I want to read news on the competition and to have editorials from the perspective of people very familiar with WP is a huge bonus. Thanks Daniel and staff for what you do.
  • There was a similar situation to this on another tech site, BGR I believe, and the editors got ripped for some of the back and forth.  I understand that as the editor/writer, it's annoying to have random people constantly throw criticism your way but there's no need to respond in the same nasty manner.  You're better than that.  Keep up the good work.
  • I just opened the wpcentral app on my phone looking for news of the android tablet and other stuff announced. You provided it exactly as I expected, thank you. Ignore the morons and don't let them bug you too much, though that can be hard I know. Thanks again, and keep it up!
  • Your point of view is a bit unfair. WPCentral covers the main and the most interesting news from the Android announced yesterday that might have an impact on WP7/8. But WPC does not go deep, as it is not necessary. Why would it if there is AndroidCentral?
  • @Daniel, you think they are getting nasty lately? Really? Well, I think they've always been nasty. I think this site is full of disrespectful 16 year olds who need a good beating once in a little while. I swear that they feel so powerful behind their little screens. Sometimes I read the comments and I wish one of those little morons was in front of me. I'd beat the cr*p out of them. I really really hate the disrespectful, hateful and immaturish nature of most of the people who comment here. Sorry for the harsh words but it really gets to me.
  • For 200 bucks that's going to be attractive to a lot of people looking for a media consumption tablet. Even if you hate Android you can't just pretend that they don't exist and aren't competition.
  • For 200 it is tempting but I'd rather spend my money on a device that will benefit me in long run like Windows 8 Pro. Which I can do almost anything with it and have the comport of the tablet at the same time.
  • Not a game changer... Are you kidding yourselves? That tablet will have more horsepower or equal to the surface. For only 200 bucks... Are we really not seeing the problem?
  • It's 7" though and that's far from ideal for a lot of folks. Furthermore, Android Tablets are just not that...good? Not sure if 4.1 changes that. We also didn't dismiss it. But clearly the Kindle Fire is its target.
  • By the sounds of it Daniel Android 4.0 upwards is a huge improvement on the mess that is Honeycomb on the Samsung. This doesn't compete with Surface but will be going for a different and lucrative market
  • Isn't that good? Care to explain why? Other than a smaller form factor, there is no reason to get the surface RT over this. Plus this is less than half the estimated price.
  • The Surface RT comes with a full cover with built in physical keyboard and a kickstand. Surface RT is better for developers who can code for RT tablets, Windows 8 desktop and Windows Phone 8 with slight modifications.  I think if there were a 7" Surface, they could aim for $199 too. Depends on how much MS wants to swallow the costs, which Google is probably doing as well. My guess was MS didn't announce pricing to see what Google would show. Seems like a good strategy.
  • @Daniel Rubino it also has no rear camera and a USB Drive or expandable memory.
  • MS should very definitely make a $200 7" Surface RT.
  • Excellent point, I think we expect Surface RT to be going after the iPad market, where as you already said this is aiming for the "in-between" Kindle fire market. Now you've said it I'd love to see someone male a 7" Windows 8 tablet
  • There is no reason to get this over the surface RT,Go back to Android central.
  • Actually there are several reasons. Surface RT and G Nexus are 2 very different devices.
  • I have a 7" ICS Android tablet (Samsung Tab 2), and they are actually pretty good. ICS is a jump forward, they are getting better. 7" form factor is perfect for me at least. I frankly won't spend $600 for a tablet anyway
  • And Fire was a huge hit for 3 months, but they are not seeling any of them now. It was sort of coming in to the market with a big bang, but no sustainability. Will the same happen for this tablet?
  • And Fire was a huge hit for 3 months, but they are not seeling any of them now. It was sort of coming in to the market with a big bang, but no sustainability. Will the same happen for this tablet?
  • The Surface is not tablet only, its a tablet and a laptop, it has the all mighty windows 8, it can run porwerfiull windows desktop applications (Photoshop, Corel Draw, AutoCad, Visual Studio, Enterprise software, productivity tools, etc ...), android tablets can run Android apps and thier buggy pop ups.
  • Microsoft won't lower the price 100 bucks an inch. That doesn't make any sense. And darknight, that's the pro version, which will cost 5x the price
  • Which is 5000x more that $50 a foot. See? I can throw out made up numbers too.
  • LOL I chuckled but he's not off. I suspect surface pro will be around a grand.
  • I personally really want a 7" tablet to use as a reader and basic device. $200 is my target price. I would sure like to see a super basic RT tablet come from ms and Barnes and noble, but there has been no news on that front unfortunately. I may jump at the nexus if nothing close comes from Microsoft. WP8 7" tablet would be fine too.
  • I believe it will. I think this is why the teamed up with B&N
  • Horsepower can't equate to OS function and usefulness. Having a pc/tablet hybrid is so convenient. And that touch cover..ohhh the touch cover. But yes, this tablet is gonna have a huge appeal.
  • Nothing mindblowing to me.  Androids OS is very mature so there isnt need for a revamp.  Users should expect some minor revisions going forward. 
    As far tablet goes, looks like are competing with the kindle and not the big dog iPad.  Nice tablet, but for me personally, i am looking for a tablet pc solution or what we would call "Surface".  If MS can get it right with all three devices working well together, Surface can be a game changer.  Oh and price it effectively, hopefully they dont got the google ball route and price it too high..
    Then they have the ball looking thing which does things similar to AppleTv and cost like 3x more?GG Google
    Then the glasses thing they showed off that people were wowed about, nothign coming from that for years to come.  Seems more of a gimmicky thing for the presentation to cover such a lacklaster conference.  Might of meant more if they actually had these glasses potentially ready to go in the near future to consumer market, but sounds like it is in alpha and nothing imminent for 2-4 years.  A teaser to get the conference a little more interesting, kind of like how square announces final fantasy games and they dont come out for like 5 years. 
  • Sadly, the reduced price for the Galaxy Nexus put me over the edge today and I ordered one. This will be my first Android device and the reason I was forced to purchase it is that my corporate IT department requires smartphones now and refuses to support Windows Phone. But they support iOS and Android 2.2+ so I don't have a choice. I'm hoping that once Windows Phone 8 rolls out, they will wisen up so I can come back and I can pawn my Nexus off to my wife (packaged with a Nexus 7 of course). Good luck guys, I'll check in periodically.
  • Honestly I've never had the same beef with Google that I've had with Apple. I'm fairly neutral or even positive on Android devices. Google offers the OS on multiple platforms. Google allows sideloading. Google doesn't generate the kool-aid fanbase that Apple generates. I wish them luck, but given Google's past efforts, I'm certain it won't be marketed / available enough. I'm expecting the new Kindle to do far better later this year.
  • Apple fanboys are hipsters and girls. Google fanboys are geekazoids and donkeys. Microsoft fanboys are the silent losers in high school who laugh their asses off in the real world when they see the jocks and cheerleaders bagging their groceries and the google geeks provide car delivery with their wimpy hands.
  • So perfect! Lol, I love these descriptions!
  • Wait, so everyone sucks??
  • Yes to some degree but the loser prevails. He has character which nobody understands but is a chameleon ninja warrior who has the ultimate glory. A wise man named Confucius said the superior man is humble in speech but exceeds in action.
  • Lmfao. Good one
  • I think I may have been off topic. My apologies
  • I might get one for my car for that price.
  • Wow, off topic as it may be, that was my favorite comment in here. Thanks, ThePKReddy!
  • Even tho I much prefer the idea of having a surface be my second tablet, the fact that this was announced the way it was made me at least consider it for a second. I'll keep waiting but how many avg consumers who want a tab now, regardless of OS, will look at that pricetag and buy without thinking about potential shortcomings when compared to the "who knows when its coming out" surface (microSD, usb, hdmi, mg housing, awesome keyboard case etc...)
    I wish MS had given people at least a preorder and it's coming soon option. The more people jump into their first tablet between now and late fall, the less people will consider buying another tablet when surface is out.
    I really really hope the surface sells well and increases Windows marketshare; I want those awesome developers that already pledge so much time to ios and android(and even more so when this new tab sells a lot of units). Googles timing to make sure and secure 2nd place is pretty decent, I think.
  • I know it is tempting but I rather keep my $200.00 for a better tablet/laptop like Surface. Android tablet does not changed at all only the screen size and cheap price. My friend has an Android Transformer with dual core and you can used it for a boat anchor and he said his HTC Radar run faster.
  • This destroys the fire and retains the same price. Quad core twice the ram gpu good etc. If I didn't have the touchpad running ics I would be all over this as many people will.
  • It definitely destroys the fire... which was released 7 months ago. I wonder how it'll stack up against the Fire 2?
  • Is it me or is android starting to look alot like windows phone?
  • they bit windows phone and webos in terms of aesthetics sooooo effing hard
  • Well those are both very stylish operating systems
  • Well matias Duarte was instrumental for web is he leads android design now.
  • Yeah, the ICS design standards reminded me of metro in many places!
  • you forgot to mention the new amazing voice features from jelly bean.  that's a really heavy hitter in my opinion.  i think ios6's heaviest hitters are the do not disturb and auto-messaging with calls.  google also has their amazing mapping technology, now with that indoor compass which looks fucking brilliant.
    a big thing to note is that no real end user features for windows 8 phones have been announced yet, so... stay tuned y'all :)
  • No sd, no rear camera, no headphone jack, no usb. I rather buy one of those 100 dollar chinese tablets off Amazon.
  • Go on, buy one....
    They break really fast, have resistive displays and most of the time aren't compatible with all the apps in the google play store (they don't even include it most of the times)
    It's better to spend those 100 extra...
  • It has a headphone jack.
  • USB host mode, use a small cable and connect a flash drive directly to it. Yay storage!
  • Be careful, my friend bought one and the battery can barely last 2 hours on basic use.
  • Really? Competition? Lol
  • XD
  • Surface
  • The whole idea of a Pad or tablet running desktop software like Photoshop is what sold me to the Surface (Pro). I'm actually selling my MacBook air soon because of that. This google announcement just confirmed my decision. There's already a 7" pad with Fire. It almost seems like google is fighting with themselves. I hope MS announces a release date soon for the surface now that Google has made their small announcement, ;-)
  • I'm with you i'm waiting for W8 Pro, and I've been waiting for this combo for a long time. I love the thing that you can do on your desktop and can also do it on your Surface and be portable.
  • Yeah it seems like alot of WP features are being "borrowed" lately. Could it be that google and apple see some value in Microsoft's approach to the mobile game?
  • I like what google is doing with its ecosystem... 
    Getting all over our heads and dissing the competition would be wrong, since it is the same error steve ballmer made that left microsoft so far behind in the smartphone and tablet race.
    Google is trying to get its game together right now by releasing its own devices and providing more and more help to OEMs so they update their devices faster... 
    The only problem I see with the announcements today is that the Nexus Q is extremely expensive... It is 100 dollars more expensive than the Nexus 7, and 200 dollars more expensive than the apple tv.
    Also, even though Android has been a resource-hog in the past, google is doing thing better now and improving the speed of its system. Another thing is that while microsoft's announcements this month were a lot more exiting, Google devices will be available for consumers next month... and Microsoft devices will be available at the end of the year.(One advante for Microsoft here is that it is not known if and/or when the Nexus 7 and Nexus Q are going to be available worldwide)
    Even if we are huge windows phone fans (I can't imagine living without the people hub and messaging app) we have to be able to stay impartial and acknowledge the competition... 
  • Personally the Xbox is a better deal then this Nexus Q or Apple TV
  • But for me as a musiclover who do not want a huge gaming console in my livingroom, something like the Nexus Q or Airplay Airport to connect to a stereo is missing in the MS ecosystem.
    I want to stream my music to my analog stereo in a simple way, how do I do that with my upcoming Surface without an Xbox?
    Help! :(
  • Apple TV with XBMC or a Raspberry Pi with XBMC - Both support DLNA. Works really good!
  • Your solution is the Nokia MD-310 Wireless receiver. It supports NFC as well!
  • Comparing this tablet to the surface is like comparing WalMart to Bloomingdales. However, I see the market their attending to which is smart, their making a product which everyone can afford and use. The surface while undenialbly amazing...will probably take a while for mass adoption depending on cost.
  • idk guys... My focus its working fine but...
    At this prices, im REALLY tempted!! Seriously, think about it, galaxy nexus + nexus 7 = 550$, surface rt + Nokia wp8 = 1000+. they will have almost the same specs.
    i was definitely going to get a surface to replace my laptop but a pro + the wp8 will set me back at least 1500$ so I was leaning for a RT, im seriously conflicted... Does anyone knows if we will get proper office with RT or a light version? Also, any idea about autocad for RT? I can deal with autocad as long as we get autocad WS (will have to do projects in my desktop but that's ok) but I need FULL excel.
  • The nexus tab won't let you do half the things you want to to on W8 tab
  • *to do
  • You can't do much with a regular tablet compare to Surface Pro that is why there are different in prices. What can a tablet do that a phone can't, nothing only screen size that seperate them both.
  • That's why a surface Pro costs 1000+ while this here actually ships (yes no vaporware!) for 200.
  • How do you know it will cost 1000+? Has it been announced or you're just plucking numbers out of the air? Use real facts or your comment is nothing more than "vapor".
  • I'm sorry...I don't care how "free" 'borg claims to be, all things for a price! You pay to geGool Play the ecosystem game... =P
  • If MS packages WinRT on an similar low specs hw, and sells it at 199$ too, which one would you buy :) ?
  • That would canabalize the RT
  • $200? I think I'll just get a Blackberry Playbook for that price. It offers more than the Nexus Tablet.
  • Google Nexus 7..... They had to copy the 7 theme, Windows Phone 7 lol
  • Not really...
  • Yes they had too because that's what they do best copy its only been what 4 nexus and this their first tab why 7 why not nexus tablet
  • You want some serious game? The best way to pluralize the new handsets featuring Microsoft's latest mobile OS would hands down have to be Windows Phones 8. Its like with plural compound nouns (is that the proper grammatical term?) Mother-in-law < Mothers-in-law. Problem solved, that'll of those Dark Knight Lumia 710 covers! =P
  • Offline voice use is huge for me, I never use data at all unless on WiFi so actually being able to use that feature would be awesome. MS should copy this quickly.
  • Why does their virtual keyboard look so much like WP's??? They kept the shades of grey and all...
  • At least now we know why MS had to do that vaporware announcement. Because they knew Google will come up with something that will easily shift millions of units and the market will be divided again by Apple and Google without any chance for MS.
  • Ooo stfu with ur dum ass comment
  • Will wait for Surface RT.
    This is a consumption device, may buy one to use in the toilet :)
  • $200 bucks is very tempting.. This will give MSFT headache
  • It doesn't even compete with anything Microsoft has why would it give them headaches
  • No they are aimed for completetly different markets.
  • The reason why I will never use anything google is the whores the android whores there was nothing new announced today towards android but a freaking tablet and a overprice media player and jelly bean which ice isn't even on most people phone and it been a year+ hasn't it and not to mention project glass which the iPhone can do all of those stuff without looking stupid but the whores talking about how this the best presentation how it beat apples world presentation and how google is the king of innovation u mean the king of stealing stealing siri voice button now the voice button on android look like siri button and windows phone camera gestures with flicking up or sides after a picture... I feel so bad for google whores because they have alot of issues its a shame
  • Mark my word Google's Android will one day end up looking like windows phone
  • Remember Microsoft and Barnes & Noble deal don't forget that ... The next nook might b a game changer.. And Amazon still gonna win because most ppl not gonna b will to re buy books and all Amazon has to do make a new tab and charge 179.99 r Just update this to jelly bean
  • If only MS can hurry with the Win8 release, android just doesn't appeal to me, it's like their designers watched Tron or some sci-fi movie for inspiration.  It's trying to look futuristic whereas Windows Phone/Metro has a genuine and original design.
  • Exactly my thoughts. It seems Android is created for techy teenagers.
  • MS's lack of real information like price and release date could do them in. Google announces a tablet and they have time and price. They aren't waiting for the holiday season.
  • Good for them but my bank is headed to Microsoft Surface. Period. End of Story. I personally don't even want to use google to search.
  • Its a good tablet for that price range, no doubt. But what a lot of people are forgetting is that this is after all meant for media consumption, unlike the surface. In a way, its a good thing if you see that google is going for the pre established market. The market for surface is not the same, it will be totally new, and IMHO, be the only useful one. I can actually do more things on the surface, which the extra dollars I put up, might just justify.
  • Mmmm android jelly bean looks what i want.....
  • The only thing that worries me about this is the elphant in the room...pricing. At $199 it is a device that will sell like hotcakes come December. As for the RT ( I will not even compare this to the Win8 Pro, that would be just dumb but this applyies) we have no idea on pricing. I am guessing somewhere around $399 for the RT. And for consumers who dont care so much and are just looking for a gift, this will be it. But for consumer who actually care they can see that it clearly has its limits. For example everyone pointed out the screen. Its only 7" and we dont even know if its gorila glass, which the RT has. The second thing that I dont think any one mentioned was the storage capacity. This Android is limited to either 8 or 16gb. The