Google’s Android 4.3-powered, second-generation Nexus 7 tablet went on sale today at the Google Play Store and also showed up at Best Buy several days ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, new features of Android 4.3 have emerged, including 4K resolution support and a hidden, user-controllable permission manager.
Google announced the “new Nexus 7″ on July 24 while unveiling the new Android 4.3 build that runs on it, (see farther below). Despite the impressive specs of the next-generation Nexus 7, the show was stolen by a $35 Chromecast HDMI stick device that wirelessly beams content via the a desktop, laptop, or mobile device’s Chrome browser to a TV. The Chromecast quickly sold out.
The new Nexus 7 was intended to go on sale July 30, but on July 26, some Best Buy locations were reported to already be selling the seven-inch, Asus-built tablets. Later sales started up at the Google Play Store.
Google’s second-generation Nexus 7
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Available for $229 (16GB) or $269 (32GB), the tablets will also be sold at locations including Staples and Amazon, where they will go face to face with the market-leading $199 (16GB) to $229 (32GB) Kindle Fire HD. A 4G LTE version selling for $349 (32GB) will launch on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the “coming weeks” — all sharing a common SKU — and sales will begin “soon” in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere.
The new Nexus 7 is one of the most powerful seven-inch tablets on the market, outshining the slightly more affordable Kindle Fire HD. It features a quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro with 2GB of RAM, and an IPS HD display with 1920 x 1200 resolution and a 323ppi pixel density. Both 5- and 1.2-megapixel cameras are provided along with WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC, and wireless charging support. As with the previous Nexus 7, there’ s a headphone jack and micro-USB charging port, but no microSD slot.
Three Nexus 7 screens
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The slim-profile (8.7mm) tablet weighs a light 290 grams. It features a 3950mAh battery that offers up to a claimed nine hours of HD video playback and 10 hours of web browsing.
By contrast, the original Nexus 7 had a slightly slower quad-core Tegra 3 processor, but with only 1080 x 800 resolution, 1GB of memory, and no rear camera. It was also thicker and slightly heavier.
More Android 4.3 features emerge
The Nexus 7 is the first device to run the incremental Android 4.3 upgrade. Many of the new features were tipped weeks ago, including support for “Bluetooth Smart” devices running Bluetooth Low Energy, and a battery-saving WiFi option that lets Google location services scan for WiFi networks even when the WiFi is turned off. Features to emerge at the official launch on July 24 include a restricted profile feature that lets parents set up different profiles to block content, and the ability to stream Netflix at 1080p.
Other new Android 4.3 features include support for Open GL ES 3.0, a new modular DRM (digital rights management) framework, and real-time app access and interaction with status bar notifications, including routing and display options. In addition, the Systrace tool and on-screen GPU profiling app have been upgraded for improved performance profiling, says Google. There’s also a new Action Bar API, a BidiFormatter utility, and improved RenderScript functionality.
On July 26, the AndroidPolice dug up a new Android 4.3 feature that had not been publicized. The release has added support for 640dpi screen resolution, which is available on a 4k HDTV screen featuring 3840 x 2160 resolution. The previous high was 480dpi, supported on the HTC One. This appears to be primarily aimed at Google TV, which Google insists is still pushing forward despite modest sales and the arrival of the new Chromecast.
On July 25, AndroidPolice reported on another hidden feature called “Apps Ops” that appears to address privacy concerns. The feature lets users selectively disable some app permissions. With Apps Ops you could, for example, turn off the Facebook location tracking feature while still using the Facebook app.