Google‘s cozying up with the entertainment industry, making movies, TV shows and other content key attractions for its new Nexus 7 tablet and a cloud-based home entertainment device, the Nexus Q. The search giant told developers today that its Google Play service has deals with Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony, and Paramount enabling consumers to download as well as rent movies and shows, available by episode or season. The company also will add magazines from Hearst, Conde Nast, and Meredith. The content will be optimized for the Nexus 7 tablet made by Asus and running a new version of Android. Shipping in mid-July, the device — with a base price of $199 — will have a 1280 X 800 pixel HD screen, a Tegra 3 quad core processor, front-facing camera, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. The battery can show video for nine hours, and lasts 300 hours in standby. It weighs 340 grams — about the weight of a paperback book, Google says. Although most of its features require Internet access, users can download content for times when they can’t connect with the cloud. Execs also say that they’ve enhanced the recommendations engine making it more accurate the more its used. It also has a feature similar to Shazam that can identify songs that users don’t recognize. The Nexus 7 integrates with another new device, Nexus Q — an Android-powered computer with an audiophile-grade amplifier that connects to a TV and speakers. The device, which costs $299 and will ship in July, accesses the owner’s video and audio content from Google Play. Visitors with a Nexus 7 tablet also can port their content through someone else’s Nexus Q.
In addition to the entertainment announcements, Google unveiled enhancements to other services in the new version of Android. Searches will turn up cards with images and maps, not just words; users who want more text info can swipe away the cards. The company has enhanced the voice search to provide spoken responses. Another feature, Google Now, integrates a users’ search and location history, and calendar. The company says it can figure when you commute, how long your usual route will be, and provide an alternate route if there’s congestion. It also can say when the next train or bus will arrive, show places around you as you walk down the street. At a restaurant it will tell you what it’s best known for. If you normally take bus it will tell you when to leave to get next bus to make appointment on time. And people who search for a specific sports team will be provided with real-time score updates.
Travellers who search for a specific flight will be told what terminal to go to, and whether there’s a delay. If your mobile device detects that you’re travelling, it will provide currency conversions and the time back home. An update to Google Maps enables users to look inside many buildings and get a 360-degree view by turning around. It also makes it possible for users to save data for an entire city offline.