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Network World - The best way I can think of to describe the tech press' moderated, polite reaction to the official release of the new Nexus 7 this week is that it reminded me of somebody who'd heard about a surprise party in advance, but didn't want to ruin things for their friends.
Pretty much every salient detail about the revamped Nexus 7 had leaked well before the official release, though some of it was in the form of rumors, so there wasn’t much that came as a genuine surprise.
Don’t get me wrong – I think the new devices look very nice. Full HD screen? Check. Substantially upgraded hardware? Check. Latest Android version? Check again.
[FIRST LOOK: Google's new Nexus 7]
But, to be frank, it’s just not as big a deal as its forerunner.
I got to play with the original Nexus 7 when it came out, and I think it’s fair to say I was pretty impressed – I found it functional, a pleasure to use and tough to beat at $200.
Along with the Kindle Fire HD, the original Nexus 7 helped jump-start the small tablet market, and pushed Android tablets into a more respectable position in terms of overall market share. The new one is an upgrade, for sure, but it seems unlikely to be as groundbreaking as its predecessor. It’s not as focused on offering maximum bang for the buck, and doesn’t cover any particularly new territory.
On the other hand, maybe it won’t get that horrific slowdown problem that older Nexus 7s reportedly suffer from.
Speaking of market share, Android chief Sundar Pichai said Wednesday that Android tablets now account for half of all such devices sold worldwide, despite past dominance by That Other Tablet.
Still, wonders analyst Benedict Evans, how come That Other Tablet still draws the lion’s share of mobile ad dollars and uses vastly more data? He’s essentially not sure, though he does have a few interesting guesses.
Chromecast, though not itself an Android-based device, is making enough headlines that I think it deserves a mention. If you were unaware, it’s essentially an HDMI dongle that you plug into your TV, allowing you to watch Netflix and YouTube (as well as Google Play Videos and Music) on a bigger screen. You can control it with an Android phone, a Chromebook, or even just a Chrome browser window on a laptop. Plus, it costs just $35, including three free months of Netflix service.
It impressed tech pundits enough that Google has already had to come out and publicly declare that its pre-existing Google TV service isn’t dead, and terms like “game-changing” are being used freely.
Although I am a cynical person, who tends to look on new gadgetry with a jaundiced eye, it’s difficult to avoid the opinion that Chromecast is a genuinely impressive achievement, particularly for the price. It could, at a stroke, make your home entertainment experience a lot more seamless than it likely is at the moment.
The only genuinely unpleasant thing about it, as the estimable Larry Magid highlights, is that it represents a still-greater level of ubiquity for Google in day-to-day life; another way of consuming media curated entirely by Google. Regardless of how valuable the resulting usage data will be to Google’s ad business, I’m far from alone in being leery of the Goog’s increasing control over my information. I’ll take my tin-foil hat in XL, please.