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

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It’s the week before the annual Google 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 Tegra 3 chip to a newer Qualcomm 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 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 Android@Home cloud services,” managers who’ve been working on “Nexus Q and other fun things to come” and numerous other people listing Android@ 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.

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