For months now we've been hearing about a possible Google-designed Nexus Android tablet, which could be unveiled as soon as tomorrow at the Google I/O keynote. There's been leaked images, specs and word that ASUS will be manufacturing the 7-inch tablet running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
We could soon finally learn how much of what we've heard is true, and here's my wish list of what I'd like to see in a Nexus tablet (Note: Although I'd love to see it happen so that Palm users may be avenged, I've stricken my desire to see a Nexus tablet running WebOS, because the idea is of course totally ridiculous -- but man, would that be hilarious.):
All those specs and a little more:
Leaks posted by Gizmodo Australia claim the Jelly Bean Asus slate will be outfitted with a 1.3Ghz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, a GeForce 12-core graphics processor, and 1GB of RAM. There's also a front-facing camera, Wi-Fi and NFC support. That's all impressive enough, but I'd really love to see another camera slapped on the back and an SD card slot along the side as well. The possible lack of Bluetooth or a full-size USB port also concerns me, as it would limit the ability to add key peripherals like a keyboard. Then again, maybe I'm just being too entitled -- after all, adding all those niceties would surely make it hard to guarantee the next item on my list:
A sub-$200 price tag
Some of the rumors and reports peg the price of the Google tab as low as $149, making it instantly competitive with just about everything else on the market. Odds are that Google would be taking a significant loss on each unit at that retail price, but the loss-leader strategy seems to be working for Amazon's Kindle Fire, the only tablet making a dent in the iPad's domination. If done right for less than $200, the Nexus tablet could have consumers stampeding in its direction, including myself.
NFC with a purpose
Google Wallet powered by NFC has yet to make much of a splash, and the same can be said with NFC in general. I'd like to see a little more lifting around applications for Near Field Communication on the part of Google and others. Some sort of killer app coupled with big partnerships with a number of retail heavyweights are going to be required for me to really get excited about NFC in a tablet. How about signing up some big names in dining to provide more ordering and paying at the table while eating out? Might not be a killer app, but at least it's something...
Leaked specs put the Nexus tablet battery life at around 9 hours. That's close to some of the best battery life we see with the Samsung Galaxy Tabs, but I'll continue to dream of the 16-hour battery that can keep up with the pace of a long day on the road. Unfortunately, that dream will continue to compete with other quests in the tablet field -- the lightweight quest and the quest for epic slimness -- that will continue to conspire to keep the full-day battery just out of reach.
No yucky jelly beans
We've all heard enough about Android fragmentation to fill our brains until they finally merge with the cloud in 2045, but I'm put off by the notion of another Android device running yet another iteration while I'm still waiting for my (relatively new) smartphone to upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich. But the Android development march soldiers on indifferently. So go ahead and drop Jelly Bean on us if you must, Google, all I ask is that you make it worth our while with some drool-worthy new features, perhaps a Siri competitor or some kick-ass new keystone first party apps. I'm hoping that we'll see big things from Android 4.1 this week at Google I/O -- please make it one of those sweet cherry jelly beans, not a nasty root beer or mint varietal that inevitably end up in the trash.
Android @home and Google TV interaction
This could be where Google really sets itself apart with the Nexus tablet. At last year's I/O there was some talk of Android @home and using the OS to build up the "Internet of Things." It makes sense that a Nexus tablet could show developers the way to push that vision forward by providing an interface to control, well... everything. An upgrade to Google TV that leverages the Nexus tablet would also make a lot of sense this week. Microsoft may have been the first to introduce "Smart Glass" at E3, but Google could leapfrog by being the first to implement such a concept in a meaningful way.
I've got my oxygen canisters ready just in case Google shows me all this tomorrow and sucks the air out of the room. Let's hope they've got some tanks on hand in Cupertino and Redmond, as well.