Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has officially entered the tablet market yesterday after launching the Nexus 7 that features a seven-inch 1280×800 resolution screen, a front-facing camera, and an Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) Tegra 3 processor. The tablet, manufactured in association with Taiwan’s Asus, will start shipping in mid-July and can be ordered through Google Play starting next Wednesday.
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While the Nexus 7 will be another in a line of competitors for Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, it actually more closely rivals Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire in both size and price. Google’s tablet will be available for $199, the same as the Kindle Fire, and cheaper than the iPad, which starts at $499.
The tablet is “an ideal device for reading books,” Google engineering director Chris Yerga said at a presentation at Google’s annual developer conference. The “My Library” widget on the home page features tiles with the content the user was last reading or watching, which can be reactivated with a single tap.
The Nexus 7 will run the newest version of Google’s Android operating system, dubbed Jelly Bean, which will be released alongside the tablet. It offers voice-activated typing and audio responses to Internet searches, features reminiscent of Apple’s Siri.
Apple held a 68 percent share of the worldwide tablet market in the first quarter of this year, ahead of Samsung and Amazon, both of which use Android on their devices. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) entered the fray last week with the launch of its Surface tablet that will run using the new Windows 8. Apple is thought to be much more successful than the competition because of its integrated software and hardware development. Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility was expected to bring the same approach to its engineering.
Google also said at the conference that almost 400 million Android devices had now been activated and added that the update to the software was “the fastest and smoothest version of Android yet.”
The company also showed off its under-development virtual-reality glasses, broadcasting on-stage performers’ point-of-view on screens. “This is pretty wild,” Google cofounder Sergey Brin said. “I’m so glad all that worked. I wasn’t really expecting it to,” he later added.