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Weekend Roundup: Google Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS & Nexus 7 announced, Project Glass augmented reality becomes a reality

Welcome to ITProPortal’s weekend column, which rounds up what the editors of believe are the choice news stories of the week – with our own take or analysis on these topics. This weekend our Mobile Phone Editor takes over the duties, with his usual slant toward his realm of expertise: the mobile phone world.

The mobile phone world has been a busy one of the past three weeks, starting with Apple unveiling its new iOS 6 platform and Microsoft, in the next week, launched the Windows Phone 8 platform. This week it was Google’s turn to make some announcements of their own, at its Google I/O 2012 event: which we live blogged all of its happenings.

The first of the Internet search engines big news came from the first day’s opening keynote, where Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was unveiled. This will bring in a host of new features, including offline voice typing, auto arranging of icons, and a predictive keyboard – all of which just builds on from where Ice Cream Sandwich left off, rather than offering a fundamental OS change.

The biggest feature is called Google Now. This is a new service will get you just the right information at just the right time, and all of this happens automatically. It uses your search history, location history, and calendar to figure out what information you might need and when.

Google Now, for example, will remember your normal commute from home to work and back and provide alternate routes: if it detects traffic. If you're waiting for a bus or train, Google Now will tell you when it will arrive. If you're at a restaurant, Google Now could tell you the dish for which that place is best known, or could recommend places if you're walking down the street.

Following on from that is offline voice typing. This is where you can talk into your Android Jelly Bean device, minus an Internet connection and the text will appear on the screen. Google has shrunk down its app used in its data centres for the voice recognition function and bundled it into 4.1.

There’s also an icon arranging ability that allows users to move apps around the screen, which will automatically make room for each other by resizing, or with an automated rearrangement.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will roll out over-the-air to the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, and Motorola Xoom tablets in mid-July.

Google also brought some hardware to the event, not in a mobile phone form but in a tablet: with a familiar name. The company launched the Nexus 7 during the keynote. This is a 7in tablet, made by Asus and will run from the other big announcement: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

The device will arrive with a 1,280-by-800 HD display, running from a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset with a 12-core GPU. The Nexus 7 also includes a front-facing camera, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC. Battery life is clocked at nine hours of video playback and up to 300 hours of standby time.

There are two models, one with 8GB and another with 16GB – costing £159 and £199, respectively. This includes £15 of credit to spend in Google Play, and is pre-loaded with the Transformers Dark of the Moon movie, the Bourne Domination book, and some magazines.

The Nexus 7 is available for pre-order now via Google Play and will ship in mid-July to customers in the UK. There was also a media player launched, under the name of Nexus Q, but this doesn’t look like it will be arriving in the UK.

The last notable news from the event, although not strictly mobile related, is still worth mentioning. Google announced a very early 'Explorer Edition' of its Project Glass. The US-based only attendees of the Google's I/O developer conference were be able to pre-order the glasses for $1,500 (£960). These will have a shipping day of early next year.

The company first made public news of the Project Glass back in April and as an augmented reality device, with a futuristic tint. These glasses will let you see things such as text messages, emails, music, weather - directly into your field of vision. The concept device puts a mobile phone into a pair of slim glasses and projects its contents on to a display.

Google has not revealed any specific specs for Project Glass, but is it said to includes a camera and a button for taking photos. This is while being driven by a powerful processor, with a considerable amount of memory with a touch pad on the side. Along with being accompanied by a microphone, speakers, multiple radios and sensors such as gyroscopes, accelerometers and a compass.

All of these are worthy additions to the Google's arsenal of every growing products and a good way to round off three weeks of large events; where we could feel a little overwhelmed with mobile device announcements.

Rob Kerr is a journalist with more than 14 years experience of news, reviews and feature writing on titles such as Wired, PC Magazine, The Register, The Inquirer, Pocket-Lint, Mobile Industry Review, Know Your Mobile and The Gadget Show. The mobile phone world is his real passion and forte, having owned a handset as far back as 1994 where he has seen them grow from just a business tool to a necessity in everyone’s everyday life.