The most important phone of the year has arrived. We not only geta new version of Android, but a new approach to hardware design, too. This isn't just any new piece of hardware; this is (hopefully) the start of a revolution in design and materials for Android phones. This Nexus 4 hardware is so good, so well-built, and made with such attention to detail, that it is the new high bar for any hardware - not just Android hardware.
Earlier this week, we posted the slightly unfinished Android 4.2 keyboard with Swype-like gesture typing and pretty blue glow (which we since took down at Google's request). Thanks to the recent Android 4.2 system dump from the Nexus 4, some new goodies are now available for pre-4.2 versions of Android. Namely the release version of the keyboard and the new Clock app that Ron is already in love with.
Google announced a few additions to the Play Store along with Android 4.2 and the new Nexus devices earlier this week. Among the improvements was an expansion of the music catalog and a new way to explore similar tunes. The exploration interface has been demoed a few times by Google, but it appears to already be available in the Play Store on tablets.
We've confirmed on several Nexus 7 tablets that the Explore Similar Artists button is right there next to the Buy button on artist pages.
Back in early October while we were knee-deep in a pre-release Android 4.2 system dump, Ron found an interesting tidbit of info on a "quick settings" menu. Back then, it was a double pull down notification area that housed absolutely nothing of value. Thanks to today's Nexus/Android 4.2 announcements, however, we know not only what options the Quick Settings area will feature, but also how to really access it.
There are actually two ways to get into the QS menu, as highlighted by Hugo Barra in an incredible behind-the-scenes video put together by The Verge (see the full video here):
As you can see in the above clip, there will be a small toggle in the notification area directly beside the current Settings button, which, when pressed, will cause the notification area to do a neat little flip, revealing the Quick Setting area.
If there's one thing to say about The Verge, it's that they're already known for world-class reporting in the realm of all things tech. It's clear that Google thinks so, too, as they gave Verge editor-in-chief Joshua Topolsky a personal tour of the new Nexus 4, Nexus 10, and Android 4.2. This is a first look at what to expect from the devices, some of the thought process behind the design of both the N4 and N10, as well as some not-yet-highlighted features of Android 4.2, like lockscreen widgets and the quick settings panel.
With the Nexus 4, Nexus 10, and Nexus 7 3G all having been announced this morning in a rather unexpected way, we're having a hard enough time wading through all the stuff currently flooding our inboxes. And in this storm of hardware, the new version of Android - 4.2 - has gotten a little lost. Google announced the latest iteration of its mobile OS today, as well, and it includes some pretty awesome new features - particularly Photo Sphere.
After BriefMobile leaked what appear to be the first shots of a near-production-build of Android 4.2 running on a Samsung Nexus 10 tablet this morning, the response from many people has been absolutely vicious: the new UI looks like a giant phone, it doesn't look it's meant for a tablet, the pull-down notification bar doesn't make sense, the centered navigation buttons are going to be harder to reach,etc.
It seems a little fitting that the first site to give us an indication of when we'll get our hands on the Nexus 4 was also the first site to leak its name. According to a device listing page that has now been pulled, the newest, shiniest, sparkliest Google hardware may be available pretty soon after the announcement next week. The Carphone Warehouse says that pre-orders will ship on October 30th.
An invite for an Android event held by Google just hit our inbox - on October 29th, in New York, we'll be seeing the latest and greatest from Google in regard to its mobile operating system.
It has been widely speculated that the focus of this event will be on two things: a new Nexus phone, and Android 4.2. It's becoming increasingly apparent that Android 4.2 is a fairly incremental update to the OS (see our teardowns of an alpha build of 4.2, here and here), so the focus has largely shifted to the next Nexus.