Despite hurricane Sandy causing Google to cancel its Android event scheduled for today in New York, the search giant has gone ahead and announced all of its new projects on their official Android Blog. So, without further delay, let’s get to the announcements.
LG Nexus 4
First up, we have the LG Nexus 4. Perhaps Google’s worst kept secret, the look and manufacturer of the phone shouldn’t surprise anybody. The LG-made device isn’t a huge leap in terms of features, but does have a few new surprises.
Getting the basic specs out of the way, the Nexus 4 has a 4.7-inch “True HD” IPS Plus display with a resolution of 1280 x 768, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM, upgraded 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera, and 2,100mAh battery. Sensors include the standard GPS, ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, and compass. Physical connectivity includes microUSB, SlimPort HDMI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, while wireless connectivity includes NFC, WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth.
Now, on to the more interesting bits. Google is touting the Nexus 4′s wireless inductive charging feature, something not found on smartphones since the Palm Pre. Along with NFC, this is being pushed as a completely wireless solution, so in the future we may see Google try to get rid of the microUSB port.
Unfortunately, the Nexus 4 doesn’t appear to have pogo pins, which were found on the Galaxy Nexus. For charging, the inductive pad can take the place of the pins, but they would still have been useful for audio or video output without plugging in a cable. In addition, the Nexus 4 appears to have a non-removable back cover (probably due to the wireless charging), which means no battery replacement or microSD card slot. The SIM card tray can be found hidden on the side of the device.
Since there is no storage expansion option, many will be disappointed to hear that the Nexus 4 will come only in 8GB and 16GB variants. This will save you some money over other unlocked devices, however, as the 8GB Nexus will cost only $299 unlocked, and the 16GB version will be a mere $349. The 16GB version will also be available through T-Mobile for $199 on contract. Both devices include quad-band GSM and HSPA+, meaning that they will work on most US and international carriers, and will be released on November 13.
Along with the Nexus 4, Google also announced Android 4.2, a new version of Android still nicknamed Jelly Bean. The changes are mostly minor updates with small added features.
Probably the most obvious Android 4.2 change is the new keyboard, which includes a new feature called Gesture Typing by Google. Basically, Gesture Typing is Google’s take on Swype, and allows the user to slide over the standard Android keyboard to input text. HTC already includes this feature in its stock keyboard and Samsung actually includes Swype on its devices, but it is nice to see the functionality finally added to stock Android.
Android’s camera software has also been improved, with better panorama features. Panoramas can now be captured in all directions, leading to huge images that aren’t just stretched in one direction (left to right or up and down), but are instead more like the entire field of vision or even a 360 degree view. In addition, sharing features have been improved with better integration into Google services.
Both multiple user accounts and quick settings in the notification bar were rumored, and both improvements turned out to be real. Android 4.2 now includes profiles for multiple users, as well as quick settings in a separate portion of the notification shade.
Lastly, Google Now has also been upgraded, although there are few specifics. In general, it seems that Google has worked to make the service faster, added new cards, and helped it provide better answers to questions. With Google Now already as good as it is, I’m excited to see what Google has decided to improve even further.