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Android this week: New Nexus 7 specs; Android @Home thoughts; Google X Phone tests

It’s the week before the annual Google(s goog) I/O developer event so predictions and expectations are in full force. April saw reports of an updated Nexus 7 tablet and now analysts are chiming in with similar predictions. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that 1920 x 1080 isn’t a high enough resolution for a new Nexus 7: Look for 1920 x 1200 on the small slate.

nexus-7-unboxedI think it’s a very safe bet that we will see a refreshed Nexus and it will indeed have a high-resolution display. And I agree with Kuo that Google will likely move from an Nvidia(s nvda) Tegra 3 chip to a newer Qualcomm (s qcom) Snapdragon as well, although there’s an off-chance that Nvidia’s Tegra 4 is used. But I have two concerns.

One is the price. Today the Nexus 7 starts at an attractive $199 for the base Wi-Fi model. I can’t see Google pricing a base Nexus 7 with 1080p (or better) display at under $249. Between the screen, processor and (likely) additional RAM, a new Nexus 7 could even cost upwards of $299 to start. And that brings up my second concern: Apps.

If a newer Nexus 7 starts at $299, that price is very close to the iPad(s aapl) mini’s $329 cost. Yes, the Nexus would have the much better screen — at least for now — but iOS apps often offer a better experience because they’re specifically made for tablet screens. While there has been some progress with Android tablet apps, I still find many titles aren’t optimized for larger screens or higher-resolution displays. Regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing what Google announces next week in regards to Android tablets.

It’s possible that Google could also bring its Android @Home initiative back to the forefront. My colleague, Janko Roettgers shared some thoughts on the connected home platform Google announced two years ago: We really haven’t heard much since then, but Janko found information that points to official news:

“Android @Home is far from dead. Android enthusiasts recently found traces of Android @Home in the Android 4.2.2 update. And some casual searches on LinkedIn reveal that the company isn’t just maintaining the team, but actively hiring and adding people to the fold. There are industrial designers and software engineers “working on [email protected] cloud services,” managers who’ve been working on “Nexus Q and other fun things to come” and numerous other people listing [email protected] Home as their current area of work. A bunch of them have actually been hired in 2013.”

We’ll find later next week if Janko is right. I also expect Google to finally introduce its “X Phone” initiative with Motorola.  A new handset sailed through FCC testing, notes PhoneScoop, that’s Motorola-branded and appears similar to leaked X Phone images from a few weeks ago on 9to5Google.

Little is known about the device or even if Motorola had the product in the pipeline prior to Google buying the company. If the phone does debut at Google I/O, I wouldn’t expect it to take the place of Google’s Nexus phone line. Instead, it would likely complement the Nexus, mainly because the Nexus devices are targeted at developers and heavy-duty enthusiasts.

11 Responses to “Android this week: New Nexus 7 specs; Android @Home thoughts; Google X Phone tests”

  1. BIG UK

    Looking forward to the N7 news next week. The N7 was my first ever tablet. Have to admit, it was a great choice to get me into the tablet world.

  2. n1980

    “but iOS apps often offer a better experience because they’re specifically made for tablet screens”

    Is that a 8″ screen, or a 7″ screen? The point is, it’s not “phones” and “tablets”, but a range of different sized devices. You could perhaps make that argument when Apple had two distinct sizes, but now they have 4. So how many applications are there designed specifically for an ipad mini, not a 10″ ipad? Why do applications designed for a 10″ ipad work well on an 8″ device, but those designed for a 5″ Android device don’t work well on a 7″ tablet? (Not to mention that “tablet” is simply a handheld device that isn’t a phone – tablets can be small too, it’s just that’s less common now, due to the competition from smartphones. I don’t need to design separately for tablets and phones, because they’re the same thing.)

    The Android development environment caters for four different display sizes, allowing applications to be optimised for different sizes. Apple instead opted for two sizes, and they shoot themselves in the foot by then having to shift to more sizes. It’s why we see iphone 5s having black bars, whilst Android apps scale. It’s true that not everyone takes advantage of Android’s different display sizes, but then, how many ios applications were optimised for ipads in 2010, or how many are now optimised for ipad minis?

    Later you say: “devs have to add code to support the larger screens.” But then, devs have to design specifically for ipad sizes too. Indeed, which is it – is it that Android scales automatically, but it’s better that devs design specifically for ipads? Or that Android is bad because devs have to design specifically for larger screens?

    If there are less applications designed for larger Android screens, then hopefully that will change soon anyway, with Android now outselling ios almost 2 to 1 on tablets. Sadly Apple have always had an unfair advantage in software (iphones always being catered to first, despite never being the number one platform).

    I agree it would be a shame if the price rises, but not because of an ipad mini. Indeed, there’s the psychological point that ignorant buyers may pick the more expensive device, assuming it to be better (even though an ipad mini has less RAM and lower resolution than either the current cheap Nexus 7).

  3. When I first was looking at buying a tablet, I kept reading about how much better iOS apps are on tablets.
    Glad I ignored those people because I have yet to encounter an app that I either have installed or tried that looks bad. They all run and look great.
    The new Nexus 7 sounds good, but its not the price that will stop me from buying it. Unlike Apple people I have no reason to upgrade every release , when my current one still runs great.

  4. It would be a mistake to increase the resolution if it drives up the cost that much. It would also inevitably slow the device down. Just not worth the trade-off. Don’t forget why you sold so many before.

      • Mr. Kevin, I have nearly 400 apps on my Android Tablets, I own Transformer TF101, GALAXY TAB 10.1, NEXUS 7, and all my apps are almost seamless across the board.

        When will you all stop this non-sense of “tablet optimized apps”, in-fact, android has a scalable UI from the very beginning. The ability to use multiple columns depends on developer to implement. Its is really not a big deal at all. Games looks good across all tablets and I DONT HAVE TO 2X to view a double pixelled app.

        • ARB it’s not nonsense to point out (just as you did) that if developers don’t optimize their apps for tablets, they’re not tablet-optimized apps.

          It’s not a problem with Android; I’m pointing out that some developers haven’t yet optimized.

          • Adam Estep

            I’m with Kevin here. I have a Nexus 10 and iPad 2. App experience is way better on iPad. There is a tablet version of Zite, epix works without crashing, tnt app works without crashing, there is a maxgo app that isn’t on android. Also, I don’t get “install flash” messages on certain web pages (i.e.espn).

            I prefer the android ui, but iPad experience is much better…