Hurricane Sandy crashes Google's party, but not its Nexus announcement

Though Hurricane Sandy forced Google to cancel its plans for a release event for its new Nexus line and Android 4.2, the company still released information on the devices on the official Android blog. Here's what you need to know.

As the East Coast prepared for Hurricane Sandy, Google cancelled its big Android announcement planned to take place in New York City today. Breaking with the Steve Jobs-style of high-drama public announcements, Google just went public with the announcement on the official Android blog. No need to read speculation while the announcement is rescheduled; you can read the official announcement on the official Android Blog. It’s actually refreshing to be relieved of the tedium of a CEO presentation about how many new torx screws are in the device or a demonstration in which the Chief Marketing Officer performs a percentage mathematical computation.

Google also announced Android 4.2, which is definitely not the Android Key Lime Pie release that has been rumored, but rather an incremental release of Jelly Bean including many consumer features. Voice recognition for search has been improved and speech-synthesized results added. Mobile search is improved with Knowledge Graph, a feature intended to improve the accuracy of search results. A panoramic photo capability called Photo Sphere was added that has the unique capability of posting panoramic views to Google Maps. Gesture typing is now an option. The iPhone has had a slight advantage over Android smartphones in typing accuracy. A typing accuracy comparison would be an interesting addition and something to look forward to.

Enterprise features that were anticipated, such as the SELinux VPN and malware scans, were not mentioned.

The Nexus announcements were the real news. Three Android devices (the Nexus 4, the enhanced Nexus 7, and the Nexus 10) manufactured by three partners (LG, Asus and Samsung) respectively fill out the Nexus product line flanking Apple.

The Nexus 4 is notable for its 4.7-inch screen, 2100mAh battery and low unsubsidized price of $299 with 8 GB of memory and $349 with 16 GB of memory. That positions the carrier unsubsidized price of the 16 GB Nexus 4 at $300 less than the 16 GB iPhone 5. It is not quite a one-to-one comparison because the iPhone 5 has 3G and 4G capability and the Nexus 4 only has enhanced 3G, but the significant price difference will attract buyers, especially in markets where carriers don’t subsidize phone prices.

The enhanced Nexus 7 has added a 32 GB version for $249, with HPSA cellular data version available for $50 more. HPSA +21 is an enhanced version of 3G, but at $299 the Nexus 7 with HPSA cellular data is $260 less than the equivalently configured iPad mini.

Finally, a 10-inch Nexus fills out the product line. The Nexus 10 is a Wi-Fi-only device. The 16GB version sells for $399 and the 32 GB for $499. Both will be sold at Wal-Mart. These tablets flank the equivalent iPad retina versions by $100. The Nexus 10 supports a multi-user environment, allowing family members to keep content and apps separate from each others. It also boasts a very beefy 9000 mAh battery.

It is hard to identify component cost reductions in delivering the comparatively less expensive Nexus 10. Its display characteristics include a state-of-the-art 2560-by-1600 pixel resolution for 300 pixels per inch (ppi), compared to the iPad retina’s 2048-by-1536 resolution at 264 ppi.

Android has improved again and introduced more devices. Google and its partners are leading the market with very attractive pricing. If the Nexus 10 display is nearly as good as its specifications, it will impact iPad retina sales, especially in those non-homogeneous Apple home and business environments.

Most notable is Google’s ability to manage a product release of this magnitude with three partners without conflict while having a captive business unit - Motorola Mobility - that produces competitive products, and all during a hurricane.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.