As he he opened the Google event in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood this morning, Sundar Pichai noted that Google has had a very busy few weeks since their annual I/O conference.
Mountain View's finest revealed Chromecast, a new 2-inch dongle that essentially turns any TV set into a connected, smart TV, capable of streaming content from nearly any and all places on the web.
Pichai, Google's Senior VP in charge of Android and Chrome, along with a few other Google product managers, announced some pretty cool tech devices, and new software to boot. The breakfast-heavy presentation featured a refreshed version of the Google Nexus 7 tablet, and the latest incarnation of Android software, Jellybean 4.3, which will come standard on the new tablets.
What seems to be the biggest feature of the Chromecast dongle, which has a simple plug-and-play setup, is that it works nicely across nearly all platforms, namely, Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, and Chromebook.
During a quick demo of the new gadget, product managers showed the crowd and livestream audience how Chromecast enables anyone who has a device running YouTube to turn that device into a remote control and playlist manager for your TV. Potentially, you and your friends, Apple and Android fanboys alike, could set up a joint playlist for your TV at the next get together.
Chromecast takes the directive from your phone, tablet, or laptop as to which video you would like to view and then pulls down the content directly from the YouTube cloud, rather than relying on your personal device to push the content over to the TV. This saves immensely on the battery life of your personal devices, and also keeps your playlists unified across your different devices. Your phone can even go to sleep and the videos on your TV will continue to stream.
The device will also work with Netflix content, Google Play Movies and Music and from your laptop running a Chrome browser as well. The browser streaming is still in Beta, however, but the demo seemed to go smoothly.
And now for the best part about Chromecast: It begins retailing today for $35.
As expected, Google released its refreshed Nexus 7 tablet, bringing with it a host of minor improvements and upgrades, not the least important of which is the addition of LTE connectivity.
The tablet remains with a 7-inch display, however the bezel has been reduced so it fits more easily in a single hand. It's about two millimeters thinner than the original, and about six millimeters narrower.
In the smaller package, Google offers double the RAM at 2GB, and has a speedy 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 pro processor. Dual stereo speakers are on either side of the device, and, in addition to the previous iteration's front-facing camera, there is now a 5mp rear camera.
A centerpiece of the presentation from Google product managers was the improved display of the Nexus, which is now at a full HD 1920X1200, making it the world's highest resolution 7 inch tablet.
Google also announced, in addition to improved gaming features and apps on the tablet, Google Textbooks, which will be available through the Google play store, featuring textbooks from all five major publishing houses, and that arm will kick off in August.
The tablet is available today in 16GB and 32GB Wi-Fi only models in the Google Play store, as well as several major retailers. In the coming weeks, the 32GB LTE model will be available in the United States and internationally.