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Google I/O kicks off today: What to expect

Google’s developers conference kicks off Wednesday, illuminating what it sees as its greatest growth areas and the sections of its company where it wants the developer community to be paying the most attention. Two big announcements are expected out of the day’s talks.

Tablet: The news of the keynote is expected to be a Nexus 7-inch tablet that most analysts say they expect to be competitive with Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

A report from Reuters has cited an unnamed Asus executive who claims that the tablet will be launched to compete in the lower end of the tablet price range, to plug into the Google Play store in a way that’s similar to how Amazon uses the Fire to showcase its retail offerings.

Spec-wise, the tablet is supposed to be familiar — an 8GB version of the tablet that Asus and Nvidia revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show, as PC Mag reported. The tablet is rumored to be running a 1.3 Ghz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, the Post’s Sarah Halzack reported, and may also pack a 1.2 MP front-facing camera. The pixel count is supposed to outstrip the Kindle Fire with a resolution of 1280 x 800.

What Google doesn’t have to offer, of course, is the access to content that the Kindle Fire has. Sure, Google has some movies, music and apps — actually, the Kindle Fire accesses a curated version of the larger Google app store — but all in all, it doesn’t have the same breadth to offer. Amazon also makes its money off physical commercial goods, which Google can’t offer. Yet.

Operating system:Google will be revealing more information about its Jelly Bean operating system (that’s Android 4.1, for those you keeping track) and has commemorated the new operating system with a statue on the company’s lawn.

Jelly Bean is expected to take Google in more toward toward integration of its smartphone and tablet operating systems. What else might happen? Well, Mashable has the big wish that the system will streamline more of Google’s Web services right into the system, suggesting that it would be great to have Google Chat, Google+ and text messaging appear as one app on the phone — more in the vein of iMessage.

No Larry Page: Whoever will be announcing the day’s announcements, it won’t be Google chief executive Larry Page, who has lost his voice. The company said that Page is literally unable to speak, which is why he wasn’t at a shareholder’s meeting, won’t be speaking at Google I/O and won’t be speaking on the company’s next conference call. There has been some speculation that this could be more than a bout of laryngitis, though Page reportedly told employees that his ailment doesn’t affect his ability to run the company.

Related stories:

Google Nexus 7 rumor roundup

Google CEO Larry Page and the healthy way to answer, ‘What’s wrong?’

Google report provides glimpse at government demands to censor content, turn over user info

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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