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Google Announces Android 4.3, Netflix, New Nexus 7, and Q Successor Chromecast 244

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the side-of-bacon dept.
At a press conference dubbed "Breakfast With Sundar," Google announced two new pieces of hardware and a minor revision to Android. Complete stories and commentary are still coming in, but in the mean time you can skim a liveblog or two First is the new Nexus 7. The hardware is slightly improved (full HD screen, better graphics, etc.). The specs managed to "leak" hours before the event through Best Buy opening preordering too early. On the software side, they've announced a minor revision to Android, 4.3. It features improved Bluetooth support (including Bluetooth 4.0), OpenGL ES 3.0, enhanced internationalization, enhanced DRM, and multi-user support. The multi-user support looks most exciting: now you can share a tablet with more than one person. One of the features Google focused on was restricted profiles: a device owner can create accounts that e.g. cannot make in-app purchases (Junior won't rack up a $3000 bill again). Bad news: Google is implementing stricter DRM for books and video, locking down the entire video stack. The consolation prize is that Netflix will work on more devices and at 1080p. Also demoed were a new version of Chrome that brings the tablet experience closer to the desktop, improved hangouts, and improved maps. Google also appears to be making a push into gaming, emphasizing tablet-only games that integrate into Google+. In addition to gaming, they have secured deals with five major textbook publishers to sell students presumably DRMed electronic textbooks that can be purchased or rented, enhanced with better search and highlighting (because PDF readers don't support those features already). As usual lately, all of the really nice additions to Android are proprietary and tied to Google services, further eroding the open nature of Android. Finally, they announced a tiny $35 dongle named Chromecast that appears to be the successor of the Nexus Q. Running Chrome OS, it connects to any HDMI port, finds your Wi-Fi network, and Just Works (tm) for online video. The online and mobile Youtube and Netflix interfaces will allow you to hit a single button and forward the video to your television as well. Google Music streaming to the television is also supported. The Chromecast looks like a handy little device, hopefully it is turns out it can be reflashed. Of course, when using your browser as a remote, all of the commands go through The Cloud. An SDK and more details on the software side of things are slated for release later today, although conspiciously absent on their supported platforms list is GNU/Linux, listing only Chrome OS and Android. Update: 07/24 18:01 GMT by U L : The Chromecast SDK is out, but with an awfully restrictive license that requires written permission from Google to distribute any cast enabled applications, which appears to make it completely incompatible with Free/Open Source software.
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Google Announces Android 4.3, Netflix, New Nexus 7, and Q Successor Chromecast

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  • Not all new (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @01:22PM (#44371839) Homepage

    Multiple user accounts have been available in Android for ages, this is just some enhancements. Same with sending YouTube and Netflix video from your phone/tablet to your TV - I can do that with my Panasonic Viera and Galaxy S3.

    Features being tied to Google services is hardly new either.

    • Indeed what's interesting to me is the lack of a few anticipated things here. I havent followed closely but I thought the next update was going to be Key Lime Pie and was looking forward to a Nexus 5.

      The new support library seems interesting though

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Indeed what's interesting to me is the lack of a few anticipated things here. I havent followed closely but I thought the next update was going to be Key Lime Pie and was looking forward to a Nexus 5.

        The new support library seems interesting though

        I'm just hoping none of this is forced on my GS4 via my service provider. I'm one of those Pre-Paid cheakskates, but have noticed when I switch the phone to 4G (for a day or a week) all sorts of updates suddenly show up.

        • Re:Not all new (Score:4, Insightful)

          by alostpacket (1972110) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @01:47PM (#44372097) Homepage

          If you like tinkering you might consider rooting and giving CM10 a try. Back when I used to do root & tinker there were ways, (once rooted, depending on the ROM), to block updates. Rooting is not everyone's cup-o-joe though, some prefer stock-like CM, etc., others like TouchWiz.

          Also, nothing cheap about being prepaid. :) Once T-Mo get's their LTE house in order I plan to go back to them with whatever their prepaid / month to month BYOD plan is now.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Can the Viera and Galaxy S3 also just send the normal display to HDMI? I like the idea of having a smartphone and bluetooth keyboard that can plug into the nearest HDMI display as a laptop/desktop replacement for showing powerpoints, websurfing, etc. Or to run Netbeans and do code development on for that matter. (It would be much better still if it were a high-speed wireless display link, but I suppose that's asking too much...)
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        You can use HDMI to put the phone's display on TV screen. The TV has a browser and other apps and can use the phone as a remote control/keyboard. You can send media saved on the phone directly to the TV, or watch TV on the phone.

    • I've been waiting for proper bluetooth low-energy support. Does anyone know if this means that a Nexus 4 will be able to use apps like Strava and link up to a bluetooth 4 heart rate monitor? I've been using an iPhone 4s and my wife wants to get a new phone that can use a heart rate monitor (cycling and running), but I much prefer Android to iOS (she's got my old HTC HD2 with Android running on it).
      • my wife wants to get a new phone that can use a heart rate monitor (cycling and running), but I much prefer Android to iOS

        Okay that's nice, but what does SHE prefer?

        • She's not particularly fussed, but she's not used Apple stuff very much and a Nexus 4 is a lot cheaper than an iPhone 4s.
  • More importantly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Niris (1443675) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @01:23PM (#44371853)
    That's all fine and dandy, but what I'm the absolute most stoked about is that action bar is now supported back to API 7 http://developer.android.com/reference/android/support/v7/app/ActionBar.html [android.com]
    • ActionBarSherlock fills this role pretty well already, even with some added features. But this is good stuff nonetheless. The support library has always been a great addition to the SDK. It really helps avoid writing ugly wrapper classes, or the really ugly old technique of using reflection for API levels. I would like to see them add more widgets though. Such as TimePicker, CalenderPicker, etc. Some support for ORM, and better handling of Fragments, instance states, data persistence and Loaders (less b

  • by ard (115977) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @01:26PM (#44371883)

    With Bluetooth 4.0, hopefully the Wahoo Blue HR can now be supported by runkeeper et al.

  • by the computer guy nex (916959) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @01:30PM (#44371921)
    Glad I skipped this one.
    • AirPlay? No.

      Can't stream local media.
      Can't use local wifi - creates its own hotspot.
      HDMI + USB.

      May appeal to the geek, but Mom ain't ever going to figure this one out.

  • How in the world do they lockdown a video stack if I have access to the kernel?

    • Details are a bit thin, and will presumably depend on the hardware; but Google has this to say [android.com]:

      "Android also now supports hardware-backed storage for your KeyChain credentials, providing more security by making the keys unavailable for extraction. That is, once keys are in a hardware-backed key store (Secure Element, TPM, or TrustZone), they can be used for cryptographic operations but the private key material cannot be exported. Even the OS kernel cannot access this key material. While not all Android-powe

    • Easy: you don't have access to the kernel.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      How in the world do they lockdown a video stack if I have access to the kernel?

      Short of rooting it, do you have access to the kernel?

      I didn't think you did.

  • ChromeCast (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Guspaz (556486) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @01:31PM (#44371937)

    The thing is $35, and (at least for now) includes 3 free months of Netflix (even for existing subscribers).

    That means that if you want a 1080p Netflix box for your TV, this thing costs you $11... that's one heck of a lot cheaper than an AppleTV or Roku.

    My parents have been complaining about how ridiculously slow Netflix is on their Samsung bluray player (the streaming works fine, the interface takes forever to load pages), so this might just be their solution...

    • I was even thinking about getting one for my living room TV, which is an older "dumb" TV. If it will play content from my Plex server too, it would be a heck of a good deal.
      • by Guspaz (556486)

        It seems like it might not do that today, but it sounds like they're opening up the API so that anybody can add support to stream to it.

        What would probably need to happen is Plex's media server would need to add support for that, and then you'd use the iOS or Android interface to browse the content and instruct your Plex box to send the video to the TV.

    • That means that if you want a 1080p Netflix box for your TV, this thing costs you $11... that's one heck of a lot cheaper than an AppleTV or Roku.

      Except it's not standalone. It doesn't even have a remote. That may not be an issue for everyone, but it is ONLY controllable by computer or smartphone. That could be a significant barrier for a more lay user.

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        My 5 year old controls the Roku with her Android tablet. I think you are seriously underestimating people here.
        • My 5 year old controls the Roku with her Android tablet. I think you are seriously underestimating people here.

          Which is fair, but not the entirety of my point. The device may be $35, but it also requires that Roku tablet. Other devices, like an AppleTV, do not require any other device at all. It's kind of ironic, considering all the fuss Google made about Chromecast not requiring Android.

          So yes, your 5 year old may be able to control a Roku with a tablet, but your 5 year old needed the tablet. I also don't buy that if your 5 year old could control a tablet, everybody can (let's give a little credit to your 5 year ol

          • We are quickly coming to a time where people who cant figure this stuff out are going to be left behind. The time for coddling is over. If a 5 year old can parse a UI, any normal adult should be able to. Also, you can buy a chromecast AND an android tablet for the same cost as jsut an Apple TV
      • by Guspaz (556486)

        Certainly, I agree with you. However, most people already have a computer or smartphone or tablet. My parents currently have both iPhones and an iPad. In fact, the Netflix interface on their bluray player is so slow (often images don't load at all, but streaming works perfectly) that they browse for content on the iPad and then use the bluray remote to type the name of the show in directly, so eliminating one of those steps (by allowing them to just hit a button on the iPad after finding the content) would

    • by alen (225700)

      so instead of buying an apple tv, roku, smart tv or blu ray player i'm going to buy this chromey thingy and stream netflix from my tablet? what else does it do? nothing? awesome. i can build a whole streaming network at the house with this because its so cool

      geek thinking right there

      • At $35 per screen, its a cheap way to deploy an entertainment network.
      • by Guspaz (556486)

        So, the problem to be solved is "the Netflix-capable box my parents currently use is almost unusably slow, forcing them to find content on an iPad and then search directly for it on the TV to avoid using the barely functional Netflix box".

        Your solution is to spend $100 on an AppleTV or similar. That definitely solves the problem, yes. But my solution is to spend $11 on a ChromeCast so that they can just hit a button in the iPad app they're already using and have it appear on the TV. It's both more usable (i

  • Sounds like they are making steps in the right direction, I personally purchased a kindle because of kindle freetime. That decision was more than just restricting the kids, a big part was access to the free time unlimited content library and the age based content controls.

    The article doesn't say if google is planning a similar service, which is what seems to be driving my associates with kids to buy the kindles.

  • The rumored specs for Nexus 7.2 all included wireless charging. Does anyone know for certain that it got dropped from the final spec?

  • Looking at the 7" tablets, it seems like these devices are all quite similar:

    • Google Nexus 7
    • Lenovo IdeaTab A3000
    • Samsung Galaxy 3 7"

    All roughly $200. Front and back cameras, vaguely comparable processors. The Nexus has a higher screen resolution than the other two, but lacks the microSD slot that the other two have. The Samsung uses its own Samsung app store, while the Google and Lenovo use the Google Play store. Anything else different?

    • by dj245 (732906)

      Looking at the 7" tablets, it seems like these devices are all quite similar:

      • Google Nexus 7
      • Lenovo IdeaTab A3000
      • Samsung Galaxy 3 7"

      All roughly $200. Front and back cameras, vaguely comparable processors. The Nexus has a higher screen resolution than the other two, but lacks the microSD slot that the other two have. The Samsung uses its own Samsung app store, while the Google and Lenovo use the Google Play store. Anything else different?

      Of course they are quite similar. They are all made in China by the same suppliers. The only difference is how locked down the company wants to make them, and how they want to monetize them after-sale.

      You can buy a chinese tablet straight from China for about 25%-30% less with the exact same specs. Some of the extra cost in the Google/Samsung models is due to better and more consistent software, but a good portion of it is going right into the pocket of those middlemen.

      I have yet to see a Chinese t

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        Nexus devices don't have sd slots because Google doesn't want Microsoft making any more money off them. SD requires an exFAT licence.
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Nexus devices don't have sd slots because Google doesn't want Microsoft making any more money off them. SD requires an exFAT licence.

          Only if you want to support SD cards > 64GB (aka SD XC). SDHC cards need a FAT license though. Though I'm fairly certain you can probably reformat 64GB SDXC cards with FAT32 and have it still work fine in everything.

          Google doesn't want SD slots and gives pitifully low storage because they're a cloud (advertising) company. You put your music on Google Music, stream your Goog

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Yes, the Nexus 7 actually get's updates instantly, Samsung might roll them out in a year or two.

    • by Espectr0 (577637)

      It's a Nexus. That means it will get updated.

      My almost 2 year old galaxy nexus just got updated to 4.3, same day.

  • by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @01:51PM (#44372137)
    So it streams video over WiFi and is controlled via the cloud. Do we want to start a betting pool on how long till the first hack to override the device and display Goatse.cx on everyone's TVs?
  • It's all fun and games till someone figures out how to monetize it.
  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @01:58PM (#44372213)
    ...now with tint control!!

    .
  • The Verge indicates Chromecast will only work with computers running a Windows or Mac OS. Yet again Linux is treated like a red-headed stepchild.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      The protocol is fully open, linux OSS drivers will be available before the things are in wide spread use.

    • The API used by desktop applications is for Chrome Apps, so Linux will work just fine, most likely.

  • The new Chromecast device looks awesome! Unfortunately my old generation HDTV only has Component Inputs. I wonder if I can plug a Chromecast into some kind of HDMI->Componet converter? Will Chromecast require a secure HDMI connection?
    • by vivek7006 (585218)
      Buy a new HDTV. These days they sell for the same price as chromecast!
    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Unless your TV is gigantic, you are probably better off getting a new TV. Besides the fact that an HDMI->Compenent converter is likely going to cost you a significant portion of a new TV's price, new devices, including Chromecast, not only want HDMI, they also support CEC over HDMI. CEC lets your TV pass remote control commands through the HDMI cable to control devices. I currently use it with XBMC on the Raspberry Pi, and it works awesome.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @02:07PM (#44372321) Homepage

    Like Wifi refusing to connect some times until you turn it off and on again on the Nexus 4 and the older Nexus HSPA+ OR the camera getting stuck on in the background and turning the phone into a pocket heater while it drains the phone battery in less than 30 minutes.

    • Who says there are no bug fixes in this update?

    • by MSRedfox (1043112)
      I had the issue of notifications getting delayed on 4.2 with my Nexus 4 (I had to do 3rd party fixes to get them showing up at a reasonable delay). So far on 4.3, I'm getting my notifications instantly and my WiFi speeds are much faster. There seems to be a lot of under the hood fixes/updates that weren't mentioned. I'm sure tear-downs of the new firmware over the next few days will reveal a lot of bug fixes and other optimizations.
    • by citizenr (871508)

      Dont worry, one of the features of 4.3 this news omitted is disabling WIFI button - you can NEVER turn off wifi :)

  • by the_B0fh (208483) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @02:09PM (#44372349) Homepage

    Since when did Google promised anyone that it would be "open"? The only thing they offer is source code.

    That allows you to do a lot, but as we saw with Tivo, open source does not mean open access, etc.

    • There are lots of licenses around, but I would say that if you can't fork it, it isn't open source.

      Best wishes,
      Bob

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Since when did Google promised anyone that it would be "open"? The only thing they offer is source code.

      That allows you to do a lot, but as we saw with Tivo, open source does not mean open access, etc.

      iirc right on the android announcement....

      "Android is the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. It includes an operating system, user-interface and applications — all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation." --- that is off the original android announcement from 2007...

      so since when? since they talked anything about android, since then.

  • I'm wondering if Google just killed Roku with Chromecast.
    • by rgbscan (321794)

      It's my understanding that Chromecast is just a streaming receiver. You still need something, like a phone or tablet to stream to it. By itself it does nothing. Roku otoh is self contained and doesn't require another device. Could be wrong, but from the coverage I've seen (which albeit isn't clear) it seems like a device to pair your TV screen to your android device.

  • Uh... pardon me, but I have no idea what the Unknown Lamer is talking about. My copy of Adobe Reader does search and highlighting JUST FINE.
  • by gmuslera (3436) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @02:32PM (#44372547) Homepage Journal
    When will be Cyanogenmod and/or Ubuntu Touch be available for that device so we can really be the owners of it instead of google?
  • The paragraph. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:57PM (#44373473)

    At a press conference dubbed "Breakfast With Sundar,"

    Large blocks of text are hard to read.

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