Google's Nexus Q

Google surprised the developer community Wednesday with the introduction of the Nexus Q, an Android-based home computer that acts as an entertainment hub and can stream music, movies and apps.

The computer, announced at the company’s developers conference, is shaped like a small orb and is on sale now for $299 and will begin shipping in mid-July. It measures 4.6-inches in diameter.

The device can also stream YouTube videos to your television, thanks to HDMI ports, and will hook up to a pair of bookshelf speakers. It also supports Google Play Music and Google Play Movies and TV.

Google showed off the Q’s ability to set, for example, a party playlist and take music submissions from any user in the room with its “Play Together” feature.

Google has made a push to be the center of the living room with its Google TVs, but it hasn’t moved much in the non-mobile hardware space until now.

It’s not quite an Apple TV device, and not quite your typical stereo system. The computer can’t be used on its own — which is why it’s less a computer and more a hub — and requires an Android smartphone or tablet to control. It runs off WiFi, meaning that the company really expects people to use it at home — not on the go.

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