Despite the event cancellation this Monday, Google announced with less fanfare all their new Android stuff. A new OS version, two new devices and a refreshed one, more Google Now, availability of some services in new countries and media deals.
The nexus family has now 3 members: the new flagship smartphone, the Nexus 4, a refreshed Nexus 7 and the new flagship 10" tab, the Nexus 10. I'm not going to dive into the impressive specs as you can find plenty of information online. I must say that the pricing is everything we customers can expect and, that alone, is a key to a success similar to the one of the Nexus 7 (as Asus just confirmed).
The only week point I can find in the devices is what I called "mobility" in the title. First the Nexus 10 doesn't have any 3G/4G version and that's plainly a shame!
The device is impressive but having to rely on WiFi is an issue to everyone that lives where public WiFi is not that common (remember I'm from Italy!). Anyway I still hope a 3G version will come in some months as in Nexus 7's case: that will be the tablet I'll buy!
The second point is that no device in the family comes with LTE inside: Google deliberately choose to not support it for now and it could make sense. LTE is not that common yet and, even if you support it, chances are you can get the device compatible with just some of the frequencies that the carriers around the world are using just to make our lives difficult. And let's not forget that removing LTE is one of the reasons the devices can be sold at such good price points.
Android 4.2 builds on Jelly Bean adding some nice features and unifying even more the Android experience across devices. Among the new features we have the new stunning PhotoSphere, lock screen widgets, quick settings pull down screen, expanded Google Now and multi-user support on tablets.
The last feature in particular is a little step in the direction I see for tablets, my second point in the title: "productivity". I'm quite convinced that tablet should not be a third market between laptops and phones: for me a tablet should be a laptop substitute and give me everything I'm used to on a laptop. Tablets that are just big phones are non-sense.
So one of the things I would really want from Google is some serious productivity effort for Android. For example a very big update do Drive/Docs that would take it on par with Office&Co. I think it is ironic that the problem could be solved by Microsoft itself that is supposed to take office to Android and iOS next year!
It's no secret that Google is working hard on content selling and finally we are seeing some nice news. Google got in a deal with Warner and Time so they are bringing more music, video and magazines to the Play Store and, most importantly, they are opening Music and other services to Europe! Finally! That's the third point in the title "internationality"
New Google services have always been to US centric but this is becoming increasingly inconsistent with the international diffusion of Android and frustrating for us non-US citizens! I understand that starting with a smaller user base for a service and than expand it is a good practice to iron out issues and that opening some services internationally is a big challenge from the legal/copyright standpoint but in Mountin View they need to work even harder on this point.
All considered Monday brought good news all around for the Android ecosystem. We've got an entire family of new terrific devices, a more consistent experience, new features and some new markets for exiting services. That said, to really make Android the mobile OS worldwide leader, some issues need to be addressed asap. I outlined some of them in this article but I'm sure you can find more.