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Google launches 3 Nexus devices, all running on latest Android 4.2; can it beat Apple?

Escalating the power struggle with Apple over smartphone and tablet domains, Google has launched three new Nexus devices including a smartphone, an upgraded Nexus 7 tablet with more storage and calling facility, and a bigger, brand new 10 inch Nexus tablet. And if that is not enough, let us tell you all these devices run on the latest Android 4.2 operating system, a newer version of Jelly Bean with added features. Now, let us have a look at the devices and the new OS.

Nexus 7 with upgrades

The tablet, made by Google in partnership with ASUS, has a 7 inch IPS LCD touchscreen display (1280×800 pixel resolution) and runs on the latest Android 4.2 OS. It is powered by a 1.3 GHz Quad-core Tegra-3 processor and comes with 1 GB RAM. The device features a 1.2 MP front-facing camera for video calling that can also record high definition videos (720p). On the connectivity front, the tablet has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC, and comes with a microUSB port, but there is no microSD port. It measures 198.5mm x 120mm x 10.45mm and weighs 340 gm and has a 4,325 mAh battery.

Besides reducing the price of the 16 GB version to $199 (Rs 10,734), which is the same price at which the 8 GB model was being sold earlier, Google has introduced a 32 GB version to the mix, priced at $249 (Rs 13,431). The company has also launched a 32 GB version with HSPA+mobile data for $299 (Rs 16,128), which it claims, can operate on more than 200 GSM providers worldwide.

Details on Indian pricing and launch date/s are not available as of now. Note that the company hasn't even launched its existing tablets in the country, but these are available unofficially on sites like Indiatimes Shopping (for Rs 16,808) and eBay India (for Rs 17,490).

Nexus 10 tablet

This tablet, made in partnership with Samsung, is the search giant's first foray into the 10 inch tablet segment that pits it smack against Apple's popular iPad offerings. As its name suggests, Nexus 10 has a 10.05 inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen display (2560x1600 pixel resolution) with 300 pixels per inch, which the company claims, makes it the highest resolution tablet available till date.

It runs on Android 4.2 OS and is powered by a 1.7 GHz Dual-core processor. The device has 2 GB of RAM and users can choose between 16 GB and 32 GB of internal memory. The tablet features a 5MP autofocus rear camera with LED flash that can record full high definition videos and a 2MP front-facing camera for video calling that can also record HD videos. On the connectivity front, it has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and comes with a microUSB port. It also features GPS and has NFC, which means it will have Android Beam.

The device measures 268.3mm x 177.8mm x 8.9mm and weighs 603 gm. This one comes with a 9,000 mAh battery (which is amazing) that the company claims will provide up to nine hours of video playback and over 500 hours of standby time. It will be available in black and will come with a set of front-facing stereo speakers for enhanced movie-watching experience.

"Nexus 10 is the first truly shareable tablet. With Android 4.2, you can add multiple users and instantly switch between those, right from the lockscreen. We believe that everyone should have quick and easy access to their own stuff – e-mail, apps, bookmarks, and more. That way, everyone can have their own home screens, their own music, etc.," wrote Andy Rubin, senior vice-president (mobile and digital content) at Google, in a company blog post.

The new tablet is priced at $399 (Rs 21,522) and $499 (Rs 26,916) for the 16 GB and the 32 GB models, respectively. However, details on an Indian launch are yet to be announced.

Nexus 4

After collaborating with Samsung for a range of Nexus smartphones, Google has chosen LG as its partner for Nexus 4. The smartphone sports a 4.7 inch True HD IPS Plus touchscreen display (1280×768 pixel resolution) with 320 ppi and is powered by a 1.5 GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It has 2 GB of RAM and as far as internal memory goes, users can choose from 8 GB and 16 GB.

The smartphone features an 8 megapixel autofocus rear camera with LED flash that can record full HD videos (1080p) at 30 frames per second and a secondary front-facing camera for video calling. Also, a new feature called Photo Sphere will enable users to capture images up, down and in every direction to create 360-degree immersive experiences that can be shared on Google+ or can be added to Google Maps.

As for connectivity, the device has Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and 3G, and has a microUSB port. In addition, the smartphone also has A-GPS and NFC.

It measures 133.9mm x 68.7mm x 9.1mm and weighs 139 gm. Google has also provided a 2,100 mAh battery and claims that it will provide up to 15 hours of talk time and 390 hours of standby time. It will be available in black. Nexus 4 also supports wireless charging that lets the user set the phone down on a charging surface to power it up, without the need of wires.

The 8 GB version of the device is priced at $299 while the 16 GB one is available for $349. The 16 GB model will also be available at $199 with a 2-year contract (but not in India). While Google has not disclosed an Indian launch date for the smartphone, according to a LG press release, Nexus 4 should be landing on the Indian shores by the end of November.

Android 4.2 (new version of Jelly Bean)

According to Google, the new version of Jelly Bean is the simplest and the smartest version of the Android OS till date. So let us have a look at the new features.

Photo Sphere: Literally takes the panorama to the next level by allowing users to click 360 degree photos by clicking in every direction and mixing them together.

Improved Google Now: Google Now allows users to ask questions and get voice feedback on the same (similar to Apple's Siri) with additional information displayed in the form of cards. Google has now added more cards including flight information, restaurant reservations, hotel confirmations, shipping details, nearby attractions, interesting photo spots, movie timings at nearby theatres or concerts by your favourite artists.

Gesture typing: You can glide your finger over the letters you want to type (and lift your finger after each word) and it is automatically typed. One doesn't have to worry about the spacing between words as these are added automatically. Additionally, the keyboard can anticipate and predict the next word, letting users finish entire sentences just by selecting suggested words. And with improved text-to-speech capabilities, voice typing on Android works even when you don't have a data connection.

Multiple user support: With support for multiple users, each person can have his/her own home screen, background, widgets, apps and games – even individual high scores and levels (for games). The feature is only available on tablets as of now.

Wireless display: Allows devices to enable wireless display. Users can share movies, YouTube videos, etc., which are on their screen, via an HDTV. Just connect a wireless display adapter to any HDMI-enabled TV to mirror what's on your screen.

Daydream: Enables the Android devices display useful and interesting information when idle or docked. It shows off your photo albums, gets the latest news from Google Currents and more.

Improved notifications: Users can expand notifications by simply swiping down from the top of the screen. They can also take action directly from the notifications shade.

Armed with the arsenal of a mid-size tablet and a large-screen one, as well as a large-screen smartphone, Google has now waged war against Apple (unofficially, of course). With the recent introduction of the iPad Mini, both the companies have a device in each of these categories that will directly compete with each other. Who will finally win is something we will have to wait and see. But one thing is for sure – it is going to be a classic battle of the titans in the tech arena.

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