Live blog: Sundar Pichai and Google announce Chromecast, Nexus 7

Sundar Pichai Google Structure 2012

It has been just over four months since Sundar Pichai, the longtime head of Google’s Chrome and Chrome OS projects, added Android to his stable. Google invited reporters to a “breakfast” meeting Tuesday morning in San Francisco, and we were there to live blog it starting around 9am PT.

As expected Pichai and other Google employees showed off a new version of the Nexus 7 tablet, which has already leaked out on the web — it’s even up for pre-order at Best Buy already –  and will likely have other Android goodies to discuss.

The company also unveiled the Chromecast, a $35 device that plugs into a TV’s HDMI port and allows you to use your mobile devices or laptops as a remote control to get content from YouTube, Netflix, and other partners on your big screen TV.

We’ll have much more on today’s announcements later.

Tom Krazit 10:13:01 am

And that does it from San Francisco. I have to say, the Chromecast is one of the more interesting things I’ve ever seen come out of Google. We’ll have much more over the course of today on the announcements, so stay tuned, and thanks as always for hanging out with us.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:11:35 am

Wonder if Google can incorporate game streaming from a mobile to the big screen with Chromecast in the future. Hmm….

Tom Krazit 10:10:49 am

It’s video time again, as we see what will probably be the first of many airings of a Chromecast commercial.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:10:13 am

Interesting: The only ChromeOS device mentioned for Chromecast support is the Pixel, at least initially.

Tom Krazit 10:09:52 am

It will be available today in the U.S. and will expand to other countries soon. It’s available at Amazon, Best Buy, and Google Play, and roll out in Best Buy stores next week.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:09:46 am

Tom Krazit 10:09:17 am

Mario’s going over cost now, although, of course, it already leaked. He confirms the $35 retail price.

Tom Krazit 10:08:28 am

Mario says that over time, Google expects the technology to be embedded in devices from partners. I’ll leave the final call to Janko, but this sounds like the end of Google TV to me.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:08:26 am

BTW: 3 months of Netflix are included with that Chromecast purchase. Good for existing customers too. Basically, Chromecast is nearly free when you consider that.

Janko Roettgers 10:07:43 am

Interesting side note, just to chime in: Mario and Rishi were both on the Google TV team.

Tom Krazit 10:07:29 am

There will be a Google Cast SDK. You don’t need to build a new app, will work for existing mobile and web apps. There will be a developer preview out today.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:06:54 am

Nexus 7 at $229 and Chromecast dongle for $35 is a compelling, inexpensive bundle. Impressive.

Tom Krazit 10:06:52 am

Developers, developers, developers: do you want to cast your app onto a big-screen TV?

Tom Krazit 10:06:37 am

Mario is back. This required some coordination across different Google teams, he says, as well as Netflix. “We’re paving the way for many apps to come.”

Kevin C. Tofel 10:05:50 am

Bingo, Tom!

Kevin C. Tofel 10:05:40 am

My question still remains: What does this mean to Google TV? I see no need for it now.

Tom Krazit 10:05:35 am

This beta feature is basically on-screen browsing. When this comes out of beta, why would you ever buy a Google TV?

Kevin C. Tofel 10:04:58 am

If by ridiculous you mean hella good, yes. :)

Tom Krazit 10:04:36 am

$35 is ridiculous.

Tom Krazit 10:04:23 am

“We’re worked really hard to ensure you have a consistent experience,” Rishi says. Of course, there’s a ton of content on the web. Google is announcing a beta feature: you can stream any Chrome tab to the Chromecast device.

Janko Roettgers 10:04:20 am

Google announces Chromecast, a dongle to stream online videos to your TV

Kevin C. Tofel 10:04:03 am

Whoa: Chromecast is already in the Google Play store. $35!!! Ordering one now.

Tom Krazit 10:03:08 am

But what about the laptop? The cast button still shows up in a browser, and from a laptop, you can send that YouTube video to the TV.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:02:46 am

I may be buying this thing ASAP. Good bye clunky micro HDMI cable / MHL adopters. This is what the Nexus Q *should* have been.

Tom Krazit 10:02:27 am

Pandora will also support this within their app.

Tom Krazit 10:01:57 am

There you go, Kevin: you can cast Google Play Music content to the TV.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:01:45 am


Tom Krazit 10:00:44 am

And the video progress syncs across devices: if you have to leave before the show is over but you wife wants to keep watching, you can pause it on your phone and sync to that spot when you get back home while she keeps watching.

Kevin C. Tofel 10:00:27 am

But I still want support for Google Play content. ;)

Kevin C. Tofel 10:00:10 am

Nice use of the cloud here since taking local content with you when leaving home means nobody else can keep watching.

Tom Krazit 9:59:38 am

If the video was started from an iOS device, you can still control the video from another device, Android or iOS. The new device detects what is playing and gives you control of the TV.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:59:27 am

Tom Krazit 9:58:17 am

As they point out, this isn’t particularly complicated for YouTube. But it’s also going to work with Netflix: the Netflix app will also have a cast button that allows you to stream those videos to your big-screen TV.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:57:12 am

So what does this do to the Google TV initiative. Inquiring minds want to know….

Tom Krazit 9:57:05 am

This will also work for iPhones that have the new YouTube app. You can “cast” from the iOS app to the Chromecast equipped TV.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:56:24 am

Hopefully, the Chromecast works with Google Play Movies and such. YouTube alone isn’t enough to sway purchases.

Tom Krazit 9:55:58 am

You can also multitask: reading your email while you’re control the device from your phone. That’s because the Chromecast is actually talking to YouTube over the cloud rather than being streamed from your device. Curious about the details on that.

Tom Krazit 9:55:10 am

You can add things to a “TV queue,” and create a playlist that other friends can access as well. Rishi, the product manager from Google now out on stage, points out that trying to do all this with a traditional remote would be pretty ridiculous.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:55:00 am

Your Android phone (or any phone that runs the Chrome browser, I suspect) becomes your remote, just like that.

Tom Krazit 9:54:11 am

You can also pause the video and change the volume from your phone or tablet. This is almost exactly how Sonos works in my house to control the playback of our music library, but it’s for video.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:54:04 am

Tom Krazit 9:53:35 am

Demo time! They’ve got a bunch of mobile devices and an HD TV set up on stage. On a Nexus 4, they open up the YouTube app as a logged in user. But at the top of the YouTube app, there is a new “cast” button that allows you to send that video to different devices. It’s sort of like a video take on Sonos: you can select which TV to send the video, and it even turns on the TV.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:53:01 am

Guessing this little Chromecast gizmo costs $99 or less. (Or it won’t be a big seller IMO)

Kevin C. Tofel 9:52:09 am

Kevin C. Tofel 9:51:23 am

Huh. Looks like Google is using Chrome as a major strategy for engagement. Too bad nobody saw that coming:

Tom Krazit 9:51:22 am

Say you want to watch YouTube on your TV, he says. You’ll see a “cast” button in the regular YouTube UI from a desktop or mobile experience, and when you hit that, the Chromecast can find that content and stream it on your TV from YouTube.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:50:36 am

Tom Krazit 9:50:27 am

It plugs into any HDMI input, connects to your home Wi-Fi network, and supposedly “you’re ready to watch,” Mario says.

Tom Krazit 9:49:54 am

“It starts with a new device from Google: Introducing Chromecast.” It’s a small two-inch device that looks like a USB drive, and it’s running a simplified version of Chrome OS.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:49:52 am

BTW: I pair my Nexus 10 to my TV via YouTube for those vids. Works pretty well.

Tom Krazit 9:49:06 am

Mario Quiroz is out to say more. “Why not just make phones and tablets work with your TVs? Your personal device should be your remote.” This also needs to work across different platforms and different devices.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:49:01 am

Would be nice to have a plug and play solution….. hmmm…….

Kevin C. Tofel 9:48:21 am

Miracast, AirPlay, mini HDMI, etc…. is helping big time.

Tom Krazit 9:48:07 am

“The television is missing in the picture,” Sundar says. It is very difficult to get your online videos onto your television, he says. Only 15 percent of households in a week figure out how to get online video onto their TVs, he says, forgetting to note that those households are dedicated readers of Janko Roettgers.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:47:55 am

I think the move of piping videos from mobile devices to HDTVs is finally picking up.

Tom Krazit 9:47:01 am

Sundar is back to talk about online media. 200 billion videos are viewed on the web each month globally, and it’s growing. But it’s mainly happening on phones, laptops, and tablets.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:46:23 am

Job security is all in the details. ;)

Tom Krazit 9:45:55 am

And that’s why we keep Kevin around.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:45:41 am

Actually, prices are same as announced this morning $229, $269 and $349. Wow: most expensive model with high res display, double storage capacity and unlocked LTE radio is only $20 more than base iPad mini.

Tom Krazit 9:44:33 am

It’s video time, which will allow me to catch my breath as we await the Chrome portion of the presentation.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:43:05 am

This is really a big update/refresh to the Nexus 7 tablet. I suspect sales to keep growing. Should be hot for the holidays too.

Tom Krazit 9:43:04 am

Hugo’s back with a recap of what we’ve seen so far. The main selling points? Thinner, more powerful, better graphics. Three models will be available: 16GB Wi-Fi, 32GB Wi-Fi, and 32GB LTE: $199, $299, and $349, respectively. (I think, that whizzed by, and Kevin can check my notes.)

Kevin C. Tofel 9:41:53 am

Folks at Amazon just jumped up at the office.

Tom Krazit 9:41:43 am

That will be out in early August, just in time for back-to-school.

Tom Krazit 9:41:23 am

We’re moving onto books now. She announces a new content type on Google Play: textbooks. There are new search and highlighting features, as well as a dimming feature for late-night studying. There will be titles from “all five major textbook providers” she says, and you can buy or rent them.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:41:17 am

Tom Krazit 9:39:59 am

Prince of Persia, the long-running franchise, has a second version out for Android tablets. And Asphalt Airborne 8 now goes up to, uh, 8 with its new version. That hits the gaming trifecta: jetski racing, car racing, and adventures with swords.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:38:36 am

Would be nice if there was a hardware add-on for the new Nexus 7 with hardware controls. #WishfulThinking

Tom Krazit 9:38:08 am

We’re getting a demo of RipTide GT 2.0, which is a Jetski racing game. The graphics are nice, the execution of the special jumps, not quite as good.

Tom Krazit 9:37:16 am

This app can be downloaded today, and it will ship with the Nexus 7 tablet. Makes sense for Google to promote gaming as it tries to get more momentum behind its tablets and its tablet partners.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:36:27 am

Tom Krazit 9:36:25 am

Google Play Games is basically a launcher for various tablet games. It works with Google+ (I think) and Hangouts to let you see how your friends are doing on the same game you play (assuming you all play the same games and live in Google’s ecosystem).

Tom Krazit 9:35:26 am

She’s showing off apps in Google Play that are dedicated solely for tablets. While Android smartphones took off fairly quickly, it’s been a little harder for Google to get traction in the tablet market. But a bunch of the top ten Google Play apps are tablet-oriented games, she says. There’s a new Google Play app: Google Play Games.

Tom Krazit 9:34:16 am

Google Play content update from Google Play product manager Ellie Paus. (Sorry, Ellie, if you want your name spelled right, ask the marketing folks to put it on a slide during the presentation.)

Kevin C. Tofel 9:33:57 am

“OK, Google: Go back two slides.” That would have been cool. ;)

Tom Krazit 9:33:01 am

Hangouts! They’re demoing screen sharing on the new Nexus 7 with a bunch of groggy Googlers who appear to have been dragged into demo duty, pretending to talk about the food they want to bring on an upcoming camping trip. The experience definitely resembles the desktop Hangout experience, however.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:32:44 am

Call me Hugo!!!! (He’s using G+ Hangouts now)

Kevin C. Tofel 9:32:21 am

High res screens such as this are made for a great Maps experience….

Tom Krazit 9:31:38 am

Google Maps update: This appears to be an overview of the new apps released a few weeks ago. Hugo is showing off the “Explore” tab within the app, that lets you find restaurants in your area, and the usual stuff.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:31:11 am

Amazes me that Google was able to get a small “retina display” tablet out before Apple. And for quite a bit less money ($100) than the current iPad mini.

Tom Krazit 9:30:48 am

The Chrome browser on 4.3 is rich enough to see all desktop-formatted sites without zooming, Hugo says. And Google is adding Google Translate to the browser to prompt you if you want a web page in an unfamiliar language translated.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:29:51 am

All Nexus devices get Android 4.3 right way; the Google Experience devices (HTC One and Galaxy S4) will see it “soon”.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:29:13 am

Tom Krazit 9:29:06 am

The Android 4.3 update is coming to several Nexus devices this week: I didn’t get the full list, but I believe the original Nexus 7 and the Nexus 4 smartphone were included. We’ll make sure to get that full list later.

Tom Krazit 9:28:23 am

And here’s where Netflix comes in: there is a new version of the Netflix app that supports HD streaming using these new DRM APIs. There is certainly more information that needs to be shared about that feature, and we’ll try to pin them down later.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:28:06 am

DRM on books = Don’t Read Me. GRRRR……

Tom Krazit 9:27:30 am

Android 4.3 has new DRM APIs. Yay, DRM!

Kevin C. Tofel 9:27:16 am

Tom Krazit 9:26:41 am

To be fair, the graphics are actually quite good for a tablet experience. The First Law of Technology Demos holds that the graphics you’re seeing on a big screen in a demo hall don’t necessarily translate to the home experience, but there’s no doubt that mobile graphics experiences are approaching that of PCs from four or five years ago.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:26:22 am

Given that Qualcomm is powering nearly all the newest devices these days, Nvidia can’t be happy. Its Tegra 3 was inside the original Nexus.

Tom Krazit 9:25:42 am

We’re getting a demo of The Chase, by Unity, which uses OpenGL/ES3, now supported by Android 4.3. It’s really shiny.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:25:30 am

Runtastic is supported on Android 4.3 with that Bluetooth 4.0 LE feature. I may have to check it out for running with an Android 4.3 phone:

Tom Krazit 9:24:32 am

Android 4.3 now supports Bluetooth Smart technology, or Bluetooth Low Power (I think that’s what Hugo said). They’re demoing a guy with a wearable sensor as we measure his heart rate. The demo guy has a 138 resting heart rate, which implies he’s a little nervous about performing jumping jacks for the crowd.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:23:29 am

Example of restricted apps:

Tom Krazit 9:23:00 am

Apps can behave differently when running in a restricted-use profile. For example, you can prevent the in-app purchase options from even showing up as an option in the “kids mode” profiles.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:22:28 am

Those user account settings in Android 4.3 have more “PC like” account management. Interesting because that allows a family to share a tablet easier instead of having each person to buy their own.

Tom Krazit 9:21:56 am

Android 4.3 now has a multiuser feature with “restricted profiles” so parents can have “peace of mind” regarding who can access what on the tablet. They’re demoing a kids’ app, showing how you can set restrictions on in-app purchases for games, which has long been a headache for parents trying to entertain their kids without racking up huge bills.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:20:28 am

Wow. Everything but 802.11 ac in here.

Tom Krazit 9:20:23 am

This will be the first device to ship with Android 4.3, the latest version of Jelly Bean.

Tom Krazit 9:20:04 am

Battery life? They’re promising an extra hour of battery life than the original Nexus 7.

Tom Krazit 9:19:25 am

As Kevin noted, Google and Asus added a rear camera. It has a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor (Google didn’t borrow the marketing tactics Motorola shamefully used yesterday). It has 2GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, and there will be a single U.S. 4G LTE model that will apparently connect to a variety of networks.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:18:54 am

My eyes are spoiled by the high res screens on the Chromebook Pixel and Nexus 10, so I’m liking this refresh. Great screen for not a lot more money than the current price.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:18:18 am

Tom Krazit 9:17:55 am

“There’s more to a great tablet than just the number of pixels,” Hugo says. It can display a 30 percent greater range of colors, and it has dual stereo speakers. They’re really pitching this as a media consumption device, which is interesting.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:17:24 am

Hello back camera addition!

Tom Krazit 9:16:33 am

It’s a true 1080p HD display, Hugo says. He calls it “the world’s highest-resolution 7-inch tablet.”

Kevin C. Tofel 9:15:49 am

Side bezel is smaller, but top and bottom look bigger. Could just be me.

Tom Krazit 9:15:30 am

Kevin C. Tofel 9:15:20 am

Boy, the bezel on that new Nexus 7 looks big to my four eyes.

Tom Krazit 9:15:03 am

Hugo says the new Nexus 7 is focused on power and portability. It has the same display size but is thinner than the original, and lighter.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:13:41 am

That Nexus 7 at a low price point really helped Android tablet adoption. So will the next Nexus 7, which is just $30 more and has a much better screen.

Tom Krazit 9:13:40 am

“Today we’re happy to talk about the new Nexus 7,” Sundar says, confirming what Best Buy already confirmed this morning. Hugo Barra of Google is now out to talk about the device and changes to the Google Play store.

Tom Krazit 9:13:05 am

A year ago, Google launched the Nexus 7. That was a moment that started turning the tide toward Android tablets, he says. The Nexus program, of course, is designed to allow Google to provide a “stock” Android experience free of a manufacturer brand. But Asus built the Nexus 7, and Sundar gives a shoutout to Johnny Shih of Asus, who is up front and center.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:12:25 am

Finally, Google Play is starting to rival iTunes App Store in downloads. Probably not yet close for revenues though.

Tom Krazit 9:11:19 am

20 billion apps had been downloaded as of last year on Google Play. Now it’s 50 billion. Revenue per user has also increased 2.5X in the last 12 months, Sundar says.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:11:17 am

I suspect the Kindle Fire / Nook tablets are not part of those figures but that’s simply a guess on my part as Google doesn’t have the activation data on those.

Tom Krazit 9:10:41 am

How is Android doing in tablets? At the end of 2012, Android was approaching 10M tablet activations, and now Android is approaching 70M activations. He claims one out of every two tablets sold worldwide is an Android tablet.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:10:04 am

OOOH! He said Chrome device. I’m going with a Chrome tablet and docking keyboard…..

Tom Krazit 9:09:56 am

Kevin C. Tofel 9:09:34 am

All those Chrome users are a big audience for Google engagement and information gathering.

Tom Krazit 9:09:28 am

“We’re going to talk about two things today,” Sundar says. One is an Android device, the other is a Chrome device. We’re starting with Android.

Tom Krazit 9:09:09 am

“Android is the most popular platform in the world, and Chrome is the largest browser in the world,” Sundar says.

Tom Krazit 9:08:29 am

“We are really at a pivotal moment in computing,” Sundar says. Smartphones and tablets are exploding in growth, and the combination of this “multiscreen” world is becoming the norm for consumer computing. “Our goal is to deliver an experience that is seamless and beautiful across all screens.” And Android and Chrome are the vehicles for that plan, he says.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:07:53 am

What, no Google Glass on Sundar?

Tom Krazit 9:07:26 am

Sundar is out. “It’s been a busy summer for us.”

Tom Krazit 9:06:28 am

And just in time! Lights are dimming, and we’re underway.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:06:14 am

*cough* Pixel with integrated LTE *cough*

Tom Krazit 9:05:50 am

Once again, reliable Wi-Fi is too much to ask for at a tech industry event. Switching to MiFi.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:03:22 am

That egg sandwich much be good. Tom is quiet.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:59:36 am

Wonder if we’ll hear any new daily Android activation numbers; they’ve been pretty flat for months.

Tom Krazit 8:57:22 am

I just heard the video production guys giving the backstage crew the “5 minutes out” warning.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:56:37 am

Nice breakfast choices. I’m drinking hour-old coffee on the east coast. ;)

I did see that Sundar tweeted about both Android and Chrome updates; we already know much about the Android bits, so I’m hoping for a Haswell-powered Pixel or a Chrome OS tablet with docking keyboard. And fresher coffee. ;)

Tom Krazit 8:56:00 am

Tom Krazit 8:55:08 am

There is indeed breakfast! Although it’s buffet style, no menu. I went with some sort of egg casserole dish that was pretty good for mass buffet-style eating, but I also spied some egg sandwich things that looked decent.

Tom Krazit 8:54:04 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:53:30 am

Most important question for Tom before we start: Is there actually a breakfast menu to choose from? (Go for the Eggs Benedict if they have it!)

Tom Krazit 8:52:30 am

Hey everybody! We’re settling in at Dogpatch Studios in San Francisco for Google’s event, which should start at the top of the hour. There are probably about 50-60 members of tech media plus a number of Google employees and partners: I’ve already spotted a representative from Netflix, which suggests they’ll be involved somehow.


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