Days after Microsoft presented its Surface concept, Google has debuted the Nexus 7, its first own-branded tablet – a low-cost, quad-core device running Android Jelly Bean.
Unlike the Microsoft Surface, which is based on Windows 8, the Google devices will be available worldwide from July.
The Nexus features a 7in display, and will be based on Nvidia's Kai system-on-a-chip platform, featuring a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset.
Google surprised some by announcing that the device is being made by Taiwanese manufacturer and own-brand netbook maker Asus, which also makes components for a number of other US technology brands, including Apple and HP.
The 8GB Nexus 7 will be priced competitively with Amazon's Kindle Fire at $199 (£159 in the UK). The device is also of similar phyiscal size to the Kindle. A 16GB version will cost £199.
The announcement paves the way for the mobile technology battle of the decade: Apple's i-branded devices running iOS apps and interfacing with the Apple ecosystem; Microsoft's own-brand Surface offering Windows 8 RT and Pro, underwritten by the perceived goodwill from Microsoft's vast installed base of business users; Google's Android-powered ecosystem and, now, its own-brand devices; and the dark horse of the business world, Amazon – thought of as a retailer, but also a company whose infrastructure services power many web-based enterprises.
• Google also demonstrated “Project Glass”, its augmented reality glasses that offer a radically different interface experience to the touchscreen.
As location-based applications both enable and create new forms of content that overlay a virtual content layer onto the physical world depending on the user's real-world location, augmented reality interfaces open up huge potential for new forms of public service, retail and advertising.
Google will make the glasses available to developers in 2013, it said.
Also unveiled was the Nexus Q, a screen-less computer designed to be connected to a TV, pitched directly at a space where Apple has recently been strong.
• Additional reporting Graeme Burton.
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