On Wednesday, Google kicked off its 2012 Annual Google I/O Developers Conference in San Francisco. Six thousand conference attendees, and untold minions via live streaming video on Youtube and developers.google.com/io/, watched as Google announced new products and upgrade features that delighted both the live and remote audiences. This is the annual opportunity for Google to strengthen its ties with Android, Maps, and apps developers. The crowd was not disappointed.

Here are some of the highlights of the Google news and features for Android Jelly Bean, Project Butter, Nexus 7, Nexus Q, Play, Notifications, Cards, Now, Event, Party, Hangout, Maps, Transit, SDK, and, last but not least, Google Glass:

Android Jelly Bean, operating system version 4.1

  • Jelly Bean is Android version 4.1, available today to Galaxy Nexus and Xoom, an upgrade over Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0, and Gingerbread 2.x before that…
  • Overall faster performance and less bandwidth usage, due to better memory management and “smarter download savvy” about data and application.
  • “Project Butter” to deliver faster performance. Includes a faster display screen refresh rate, triple memory buffering, and touch responsiveness that runs independent of the screen updates.
  • Google speech recognizer will be in the device itself. This increases speech recognition performance because you don’t have to wait for the cloud to transcribe your voice. Having a local speech recognition on the handheld enables offline speech dictation!
  • “Cards” to serve as gadgets – like an app-on-a-flash-card.
  • Cleaner re-wrapping of gadgets on the home screen.
  • Improved accessibility with integrated braille support and external braille input.
  • Top-level Android Notifications integrated directly with phone and email to allow you to respond from the notification. You can even configured a canned response.
  • Integrated translation into foreign languages.
  • Support for right-to-left input languages including Arabic, Persian, Hindi, and Thai.
  • Software Developer’s Kit ready for download today. The SDK will be in sync with new hardware from OEMs before its release, to ensure hardware and software are optimized in parallel.
  • Google delivers Jelly Bean to open source in July.
  • Assume Google’s strategy is to wrestle manufacturers back to common versions, so that Android does not become a software version control nightmare.
  • Competes with iOS, and this is why Google now sells hardware – to compete with Apple, and not leave Android’s fate up to OEMs (and repeat the lessons learned by Microsoft for too many poor quality Windows versions on OEMs). .
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Nexus 7 Tablet

  • “The goal of the Nexus program to provide good user experience… so Google has partnered with Asus to build the Nexus 7…”
  • 7-inch display tablet running Android Jelly B
  • Tegra 3 chipset with quadcores CPUs and quadcore GPUs to give you 16 processors.
  • Front-facing camera
  • Wifi, bluetooth, and mic. Internal compass and gyroscope.
  • Battery runs 9 hours of HD video, or 300 hours on standby.
  • Lightweight, 340 grams
  • Runs optimized versions of YouTube for high-def, Google Maps turn-by-turn navigation, an Google News with Google Translate built into the menu.
  • Demo included “Dead Trigger” game demo, with guns, zombies, water, and blood. “Who says mobile gaming has to be casual?”
  • Integrated with Google Play and user content is synced with cloud.
  • The home screen is your library – you can pick up exactly where you left off previously with your movie, book, or listening from another device.
  • Sells for $199, and shipping begins in mid-July.
  • Order from Google Play and receive a $25 credit for Google Play Store.
  • Competes with Amazon Kindle Fire. This would be a Kindle-killer because at the same price, it has the microphone and camera. Competes with iPad too.

Nexus Galaxy

  • Phone running Jelly Bean. Purchase unlocked phone from Google Play for $349. Competes with iPhone 4S.

Nexus Q

  • “Q” is a home entertainment router, running Jelly Bean, connected to Google Play in the cloud, operated by another Nexus/Droid controller, with outputs to audio speakers and/or an HDMI TV. The result: collaborative home entertainment for sharing movies, videos, audio across friends and family to your living room or whatever room you want.
  • It’s a 4-inch round charcoal black globe with a single belt of flashing light across its middle, and a outputs for cords on the backside.
  • “Hackable” to encourage social activity such as sharing music, or multi-Droid user game and social applications running on your TV.
  • Sells for $299, ships in mid-July. Competes with Apple TV.
  • Nexus Q is made in the U.S.A., in San Jose, Calif.
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About The Author

Sandra Giger is a Blast correspondent

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