Australians Are Still Second-Class Citizens In Android Jelly Bean

There are lots of great new features in Android Jelly Bean. It's just a huge pity that a large majority aren't going to work in Australia when we first get our hands on a device running Android 4.1 at some point in mid-July when the Nexus 7 tablet launches here..

I was pleasantly surprised today when Google revealed that Australia would be one of the four launch countries for the ASUS-built 7-inch Nexus tablet. At $299 for the 16GB model and $249 for the 8GB junior version, I suspect there will be strong interest. Previous Nexus-branded devices have hit Australia a long time after their American release, so when Google reached that point in its announcements at around 0330 this morning and Australia came up, I felt a brief surge of pleasure. Maybe we're getting closer to a global Google, I briefly thought.

But looking back on those announcements a few hours later, it's very evident that Australians aren't going to get immediate access to a lot of the coolness that was revealed this morning, on both hardware and software fronts. Let's review the list of options that won't work in Australia:

  • Most of the Google Now features are reliant on Google's enhanced Knowledge Graph search, and that hasn't hit Australia yet.
  • More particularly, the ability for your device to tell you when you need to leave the house to catch a bus or train relies on Google Maps already having public transport data. That still isn't the case in Australia's biggest cities (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), which renders it all but useless. (I realise Google is reliant on state government authorities releasing that data, but I don't get the impression it's a major priority for anyone in Google's Australian HQ either.)
  • The groovy-looking Nexus Q media player is also US-only right now. But in a weird way that makes sense: we don't have access to Google Music in Australia yet, so the ability to play stuff on it would be hopelessly compromised.
  • Google hasn't even revealed US release dates for its updated Play content options, which include buying movies and TV shows rather than renting, and selling magazines as well as books. However, given that we only just got movie rentals through Google Play in Australia and all the magazine brands discussed were from the US, I am not holding my breath.
  • The enhanced voice control options are US English only. So no dice there.
  • Even if you were an Aussie developer and made your way to IO, you can't buy the $US1500 developer edition of Google Glasses which attendees can pre-order; that's also US-only, apparently because of regulatory requirements relating to the connectivity options.

I'm sure some of these features will be introduced eventually, but there's no clear timeframe. Obviously we'll still get the under-the-hood benefits of Jelly Bean such as improved performance and enhanced notifications.

And Google is far from unique in this respect: Siri in Australia only offers a fraction of the features seen in the US. So it's not that this lack of features makes Jelly Bean a bust. But that list reminds us that even though we might get our hands on the cool new tablet quickly, it will be rather less cool just because of where we live.


Comments

    I live in Melbourne and have been using Google Music for months on several phones, including the HTC Desire and my current Samsung Galaxy S3. Once it is enabled with your account (American VPN) you are free to use the desktop and mobile apps, although most/all stock AU ROMs don't include Google Music, which is easily fixed by grabbing the APK from xda. Sure, it's not ideal, and buying music through Google Play is blocked, but since Google won't officially give it to us, it's better to have something than nothing.

    Also Google Maps shows tram / train station information, but I don't think they give realtime data.

    I'm sure a lot of these non-AU friendly features will be hacked around on xda, which has a large Aussie userbase, especially since the device is being launched here at the same time.

    Thats $100 more than what Americans will pay isnt it?

      Actually, in the US, tax isn't required to be displayed. So it's $215 with tax, which is only a $35 difference now. And that's not too bad.

        Minus taxes in each country it's $73 difference, which is a 36% mark up. With taxes (depending on which state in the US you live) it's a ~40% mark up..... That is gouging pure and simple.

          No fan of the Australia tax, but there's not a single level of sales tax in the US. Their $US199 is tax exclusive, so I don't think the percentages here are right at first glance.

          Not sure where you're getting your maths there, especially where you're getting the price "minus taxes" from. $199 is minus taxes. $249 is with taxes. So there's can't possibly be a greater than $50 difference.

    - it is more, but not by much. "$199 for a dainty 8GB model and $249 for a 16GB " ( i assume this is the USA pricing,)
    "At $299 for the 16GB model and $249 for the 8GB junior" for the Aussie pricing
    so that's 199USD : 249AUD 8GB, 249USD: 299AUD 16GB. '

    Hmm. for the 16GB model that's a 50$ disparity. Better than Apple, but still a disparity.

      Its not better than apple at all... iPad 2 has 30$ difference between US and AU... and $40 difference between the iPad 3s....

      Taxes. Taxes. Taxes. The US price is excluding them, same with Apple. You can't just compare online prices in the US, because the taxes are state based. You're comparing apples and oranges.

    Considering the insane prices Google Play has for just *renting* movies, I don't think I'd want to buy movies through them anyway.

      I thought the movie renting price was about that of everyone in Australia (i.e. iTunes, etc). The thing you get on Google Play are deals! I sometimes get access to Google Play Music (if main internet goes out at work and they switch to link via US HQ) and some of the Album deals are fantastic! $4 for a mixture of new and classic albums!

        They are the same. It's entirely up to the copyright holders what they charge, beyond Google or Apple's control. And Australians are always gouged in that respect

      I'm actually travelling in the US at the moment, and I've got access to the new content right now. TV shows seem to be all priced at $1.99 per episode, and a season can range from $9.99 to $24.99.

      I was pleasantly surprised given how expensive renting through the Play Store has been.

    Australia just really sucks are not being behind the curve.

    I honestly don't see why you are complaining. We are a drop in the ocean compared to even south America when it comes to purchasing. Not to mention region locked dlc's. You can decide which company gives you the best product whether Google or apple or RIM. Enough of this cry baby me me me they don't do this nonsense.

    "Siri in Australia only offers a fraction of the features seen in the US"
    But at least Apple has announced that we'll finally have the features the US has been enjoying for months when iOS 6 comes out in Spring

      Not quite true - using iOS 6 beta, and it's half baked. Yelp isn't currently a thing in Australia, meaning basically no POI data. Turn-by-turn isn't coming to Australia at first release. Game scores and other "new and exciting" features (that are really pretty crap) also won't work in Australia. We pretty much get nothing.

    Its so easy to forget being in Australia that we are such an insignificant country , there are cities with bigger populations than our country :)

    Knowledge graph has been released in Australia :S Type "Julia Gillard" into the search bar, the little bio you see on the right is Knowledge Graph....

      Not when I'm signed in :)

        Really? Bizarre, it comes up for me.

        change your language to US English and it will work. >_<

          make sure you're on google.com not google.com.au. certainly google books is at least useful.

    Giving that Motorola Australia won't update the wi-fi Xooms in Australia to ICS , I think we have buckley's of them release Jellybean here

      Agreed. I got fed up with waiting for ICS from Telstra so I rooted both my Atrix and my Xoom.

    Having never owned an android anything (ios user but not a big fan), this 7" offering from Google seems to hit all the right spots and it has me reaching for my wallet. But not yet though. As ever, it's better to sit back and watch the first reviews come in and then follow the whinge forums where people get as frustrated as hell over the minor inabilities of the device. I think the above list of Australian no-can-do's will grow longer as users dig deeper.
    That said, what really appeals is the screen resolution and the processor used in the nexus. Forgive it it's lack of flash memory and enjoy the lightning fast response and clear screen.
    Probably a great travel companion - if you can find the free wi-fi.........

    Pooor australia, try brasil for fourth-class citzens of anythink

    God those icons are hideous :P

    Just installed JB on my Galaxy Nexus.
    Currently downloading English (Australia) offline voice recognition pack. So...

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