What do we know about the Nexus 7

first_imgWith the Samsung Galaxy S3 announced, the tech community needed a new device to focus on. Since there’s not another super phone on the horizon, we’ve drifted back into the comfortable zone of guessing what the next Nexus device is going to be. We’ve seen the Galaxy Nexus come and go, but what the Android fans of the world really want to see is a tablet that offers the same stock Android experience and rapid updates we expect from a Nexus handset. The rumored Nexus device — so far it seems to be a tablet — has been getting more and more attention, but what do we actually know about it?What is a Nexus device?In order for this whole string of rumors to come into focus, you first need to understand the purpose of the device. The Nexus program is Google’s reference platform program. When Google releases the next version of the Android operating system, it’s accompanied by a device that is made in partnership with an OEM. This device acts as the baseline for that version of the Android operating system.The first of these devices, the Nexus One, was a breakthrough handset in terms of its hardware, but it was quickly upstaged by the other manufacturers. What is important to understand here is that this is by design. If a device is released after a Nexus device, running the latest version of Android, and it is lesser than the Nexus device in terms of hardware, it isn’t likely to be very good.The Nexus devices are completely stock, which means they do not have any of the extra software that the manufacturer has developed in an attempt to sell their own content and services – like HTC’s Sense. It’s a fresh install of the operating system with no extra fluff, which means a great deal to a very specific group of people.It’s an excellent concept, and as a bonus the owners of Nexus branded devices will get the next version of Android very quickly. If you’re interested in being on the bleeding edge of software, this is the way to go.The Asus Eee Pad MeMO 370TAll of the rumors and speculation has started to point towards the same thing. The expectation is that Asus is making a device with a 7-inch screen, a Tegra 3 chipset, and there’s an expectation that it will be released at a very low price point. The idea of a powerful yet small $200 tablet from Asus and Google is what is driving this rumor from a whisper to a shout. The curious part about this rumor is that this device not only exists, but it has posed for pictures at several events already. The device in question is the Asus 370T.The tablet is no slouch, as far as 7-inch devices go. It’s a powerhouse with an IPS display and more than enough power to enjoy portable computing on. Like many of Asus’ other tablets, such as the Padfone, the tablet will run a stock version of Android. There’s no secret message behind this, Asus has released plenty of stock devices. The 370T should be arriving on shelves any day now, since it passed through the FCC three weeks ago already.Despite the rumors, the 370T is not a Nexus Tablet. It is a stock Android device for sure, and it is a 7-inch Android tablet that is likely to come in at a reasonably low price point, but that does not make it a Nexus device. In fact, the full name of the device gives away the branding with which the tablet will be sold. For years now, Asus has been producing devices with the Eee branding. These devices have been inexpensive and usually fairly hacker/modder friendly.Previously, there have not been any Nexus devices that have been shown off at tech events like CES and then re-branded as a Nexus device. They are introduced, and remain, a Nexus device. It seems incredibly unlikely that Google would accept an already announced device as the Nexus Tablet, no matter how badly they wanted to get a device to market in a hurry. In fact, what seems more likely is that the Asus 370T will be the ICS developer device that is given to attendees of this year’s Google I/O conference, which is right around the corner.Like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 that was given away last year, the 370T is perfectly placed to be on shelves shortly after I/O attendees receive a specially branded variant of the device, and will likely be the first tablet offered up for sale in the Google Play Store.Taken with the Nexus 7?Leaks, photos, and website trafficAll of these random details about the Nexus Tablet have been scattered across seemingly random, yet tangible pieces of evidence. Every time a shred of a clue is found, pages of guesses and rumors get pile up, creating a game of telephone that nobody asked to play. Nevertheless there are things that require explanations, otherwise they remain worthy of speculation.There have been photos recently that have had Nexus 7 hidden in the EXIF data, and web traffic all across the web that seemed like it was coming from a new version of Android. While it is certainly possible that the Android team has seen fit to play with everyone and leave breadcrumbs around for us to find, the information that has been found can be forged.See the image above? The EXIF data for that says that it was taken with a Nexus 7. The geotag for the original post pointed straight to Building 44 in the Googleplex, which is the Android building. Now, EXIF data and geotags are pretty easy to forge. Anybody with a PC could take a photo anywhere and have it read this exact same information. The photo, which was originally posted to a mostly empty Google+ account, has now been removed alongside every other post that was originally on the account. There’s nothing about that account that links it to a Googler, but knowing that the photos and the posts were removed hours after the news started to make round is enough to make you tighten that foil hat.And as for the web traffic — it’s really easy to modify Android to reflect a different version entirely. In fact, if you’ve got a rooted phone you could make it say that it’s running version 10.3657. If you were to go to a website on that phone, the analytics would reflect that Android 10.3657 has been visiting your website. What gives the idea any credence at all is that the same version of Android with the same information has been surfing all of these websites for weeks. While it could be that someone changed their phone data awhile ago as a joke and is now visiting websites in blissful ignorance, it could just as easily be a real version update.Final ThoughtsWhile we’re all chomping at the bit for the latest juicy drop of Android, it’s important to keep in mind that most users don’t even have Android 4.0 yet. Imagine how bad it would look for Google to release yet another version of Android, especially after having made lofty upgrade promises at the I/O conference last year. It would probably be seen as fairly negative, at least to the small sphere of people who actually care.I really don’t think that Google’s going to announce a new version of Android next week at I/O, nor will they announce a new device to help bring that to light. Google has had a history of using I/O to show everyone what is happening next in the Android world, and to release one or two small things as additions to the platform. I expect that Google has some really interesting things to show us all next week, but I do not think that the next version of Android is one of those things.As for the supposed Nexus Tablet, I’m sure that it is on the way, but I am also pretty sure that we won’t be seeing it until the release of Jelly Bean.last_img read more