IGoogle is right around the corner from announcing the next version of Android, it looks like the ASUS K009 may be the hardware that accompanies that release.
Each version of Android typically comes with new hardware to act as a sort of flagship for that release. Google has either partnered with an OEM to release a Nexus branded device or allowed the company to release their own branded hardware for each major release. Even before Google acquired them, Motorola had been used for two different version releases with the original Droid and the Xoom tablet.
With the Moto X release right around the corner, and all signs pointing to Android 4.3 being more of an “under the hood” update than a big visual change, it seems possible that we’d see another release in this line. Screenshots of a conversation that was supposedly had with an Asus chat rep points at either a different possible launch partner or a look into a larger release plan from Google.
The funny thing about support chats with big companies is that they are all recorded. Despite the names of everyone in the conversation that was captured in these screenshots being blocked out, it would be trivial for Asus to crawl their chat logs and find this conversation based on keywords alone. This conversation points to either an intentional leak from Asus or a doctored image for attention.
The Asus K009 is a real device, and has cleared the FCC for release in the US already, so it seems likely that either of these could be true. Assuming this is a leak from Asus, we’ve got a pretty good look at the tablet that will most likely replace Google’s Nexus 7.
According to the leak, the K009 will be packing much of what you see in current high end smartphones. A Snapdragon 600 processor with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage is pretty much line for line what you see in the HTC One. With a 7-inch 1920 x 1200 display, an LTE option, and a 4,000mAh battery, it seems hard to believe that this tablet would replace the $200 Nexus 7 without a price bump for the base model. If it was released at that price point, it would be hard to see this tablet doing anything other than flying off the shelf.
This is the first tablet suggested to come with Android 4.3, and is expected to be released around the end of July. That is the same release frame as the Moto X, and with Android 4.3 ROMs currently being tested for both the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play edition devices, it’s possible that Google is planning a software update with a lot of hardware options right out of the gate. This would be a big deal for Android, given the continuous criticism the OS receives for being so fragmented. If any of this is true, we’re only a few weeks away from seeing it come to pass.