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Google unveiled the first version of the Android operating system designed specifically for tablets today. The UI looked pretty cool and the company showed some nice features that the iPad lacks — video calling and a Web-based app store were the biggest — but the overall response from the press-filled audience was muted.Or to put it another way: yawn.
Here were some things that Google DIDN’T announce that might have generated more excitement:
- A music store or service, or any iTunes competitor at all
- A new way to download or stream feature movies and TV shows (apart from good old YouTube) or any new content partners
- Groundbreaking new applications that take full advantage of the tablet form factor (think Flipboard for iPad)
- Anything for businesses or enterprises — this was particularly notable given that Google’s Chrome OS announcement in December had a long demo of using Citrix to access corporate apps
- New hardware partners or cool new devices
Even Google’s developer partners seemed a bit lackluster about the whole thing. The Economist showed its app running on Motorola’s Xoom tablet, but the demonstrator was careful to mention that the actual final version of the app would be much better, with support for Flash-based infographics and the text laid out and wrapping around images properly. Disney was showing Tap Tap Revenge 4 running on an Android phone, but noted that it’s not quite available yet — it has to wait for Google to roll out in-app purchases, which should happen in March — and said that it would get around to releasing a version for Android tablets some time in the future.
Android tablets like Motorola’s Xoom may end up selling pretty well — Android smartphones didn’t seem all that great at first glance either — but they definitely don’t have the “wow” factor that the iPad did at launch. In fact, there seems to be a lot more excitement about Apple’s NEXT iPad, which hasn’t even been officially announced yet.
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