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Google sells small tablet, challenges Kindle Fire
Question of the Day
Although the tablet carries the Google brand, the machine will be made by AsusTek Computer Inc. Google also recently expanded into the device-making business with its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility, but the company has stressed that it intends to continue to rely on Asus and other manufacturers that have embraced Android.
There are already other Android-powered tablets on the market, but none have proven nearly as popular as the iPad or Kindle Fire. That has raised worries at Google as more people rely on tablets to surf the Internet.
If Apple and Amazon establish themselves as the dominant tablet makers, they could set up their operating systems in ways that de-emphasize Google’s Internet search engine and other services. Apple develops its own system, while Amazon modifies Android for use in Kindles.
Apple already has announced that the next version of the iPad operating system will abandon Google’s digital maps as the built-in navigation system. That shift could cause neighborhood merchants to spend less money advertising on Google.
Earlier Wednesday, Google unveiled a new search tool to help you get the right information at the right time on your mobile device. Called Google Now, the tool will be part of Jelly Bean, which will be available in mid-July. Some devices, including the Galaxy Nexus, will get the upgrade automatically over the air.
With Google Now, if you say “traffic,” for example, it will look at your usual commute to work and show you alternative routes if there’s a lot of traffic. It will tell you the scores of your favorite sports teams automatically, and it will keep you up to date on flight statuses if you are flying somewhere. You’ll have to activate Google Now to start using it.
The feature bears resemblance to the Siri virtual assistant on Apple’s iPhone.
Jelly Bean will also come with the ability to share photos by tapping two phones together, using an emerging wireless technology called near-field communications.
Google said there are a million new Android devices activated daily, up from 400,000 a year ago. Google says there’s particularly fast growth in emerging markets such as Brazil and India. Android is now the chief rival to the mobile software running Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
• AP technology writer Peter Svensson in New York contributed to this story.
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