Google is tightening its grip on the booming tablet market, with a new tablet, updated version of Android and a social take on games. The company announced a new version of its popular Nexus 7 tablet during a press event Wednesday in San Francisco. Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Android and Chrome, unveiled a new slimmed-down, speedier version of the tablet, which will start at $229 when it goes on sale next week.
The new Nexus 7, made by Asus, has undergone some subtle physical changes. The size of the device has been trimmed down while keeping the screen the same dimensions. The higher resolution screen is now 1,920 by 1,200 pixels, packing in 323 pixels per inch. The amount of RAM has been doubled, and the CPU is twice as fast as the previous Nexus 7. The company also said that it has improved its speaker performance and that it can last for nine hours of high-definition video playing.
Netflix will be one of the first apps to take advantage of the new video-friendly specs. The streaming-video company’s new Android app will stream movies at 1080p on the Nexus 7. The device will run Android Jelly Bean 4.3, a new version of Google’s Android operating system.
Tablets are on track to take over PCs, and Google has a bigger stake in the boom than its own flagship devices. Half of all tablets sold worldwide are based on Android, according to the company.
The new version of Android 4.3 will have parental controls so you can prevent the little ones from seeing saucy content or inappropriate apps. There are also user profiles for tablets that end up in the hands of multiple users.
The company expects to have more than 70 million tablet activations this year. Many of those users are downloading content such as apps, music and movies from the Google Play store. The Play store has more than 1 million apps and has seen more than 50 billion downloads, according to the company.
A new app, called Google Play Games, is similar to Apple’s Game Center. In it, Android users can see what games their friends are playing and go up against other users, checking out their accomplishments on leader boards.
Older Nexus devices will also be able to test out the Android upgrade — existing Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and Galaxy Samsung devices will receive over-the-air updates for the operating system.
The Wi-Fi versions of the Nexus 7 will be available starting July 30, and an unlocked LTE version of the tablet will go on sale in the coming weeks.