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Nexus Q: Will your living room revolve around Google's sphere?

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Stephen Lam/Reuters

(Read caption) Google engineering director Joe Britt unveils the Nexus Q, a small spherical "social streaming media player" with a built-in amp. The Nexus Q will be able to stream music and video directly from the cloud, and can be controlled by anyone with an Android device.

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Amid all the skydiving hoopla at its I/O developers conference on Wednesday, Google made a more quiet introduction: it unveiled a small black-and-cyan sphere that could replace -- or at least become the centerpiece of -- your media center.

The Nexus Q, about four and a half inches in diameter, is an Android-powered home media server that’s designed to grab your tunes, movies, or TV shows from the cloud and stream them to your favorite screen and set of speakers. In that respect it’s awfully similar to the Apple TV or the Roku (or, for that matter, the not-terribly-popular Google TV), but there are a few things that set the Nexus Q apart.

The Nexus Q can be operated by any device running Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” or higher (which includes almost all modern Android phones and tablets). Your device of choice acts as a remote control, telling the Nexus Q what to stream -- a slightly simpler setup than Apple’s Airplay protocol, in which content is streamed from the cloud to an iPad or iPhone, then rebroadcast to a screen or speakers. Right now the Nexus Q works with Google Play and YouTube, although it’ll undoubtedly be supported by third-party apps like Netflix and Pandora before too long.


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