Nexus Q

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Nexus Q
Developer Google
Product family Google Nexus
Type Digital media player
Generation First generation
Release date June 27, 2012
Introductory price US$299
Operating system Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich")[1]
CPU OMAP4460 (dual ARM Cortex-A9 CPUs,[1]
Memory 1 GB LPDDR RAM[1]
Storage 16 GB NAND flash memory[1]
Graphics SGX540 GPU[1]
Input Rotating top dome volume control. Capacitive touch sensor for mute.

Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n), NFC,
Bluetooth, microUSB (for service and support), 10/100BASE-T Ethernet (RJ45).

Power Integrated 35W switching power supply. World-ready 50/60Hz 85-265V AC input [1]
Online services Google Play Music, Google Play Movies & TV, and YouTube
Dimensions Diameter: 4.6 inches (116mm) [1]
Weight 2 pounds (923 grams) [1]
Android 2.3 and later devices
Successor Chromecast, Nexus Player
Website Official Website

The Nexus Q is a digital media player developed by Google. It was the first non-mobile device in the Google Nexus product family, and it runs version 4.0 of the Android operating system. Featuring a spherical form factor, the device streams media available on YouTube and Google Play, Google's multimedia store. Announced in June 2012 at that year's Google I/O developers conference, the Nexus Q was expected to be released to the public in the United States shortly thereafter for US$299.[2]

The Nexus Q was given away at no cost to attendees of Google I/O 2012, but the product's launch was postponed after user feedback indicated that the device had too few features for its price. Google eventually shelved the product and gave the Nexus Q away at no cost to customers who had preordered it.[3] The device was unofficially dropped in October 2012 when Google announced the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10.[4] Nexus Q was named one of the Top 10 "fails" of 2012 by CNN.[5]


The Nexus Q was originally announced on June 27, 2012, at the Google I/O 2012 Keynote. Earlier versions of the device, code-named Project Tungsten, were demoed at Google's 2011 Google I/O developer conference during the "Android at Home" demo. Some of these early hardware versions were rhomboid in shape.[6]

In May 2013, an update to the Google Music and Movies apps broke compatibility with the Nexus Q.[7][8]

Since May 2013, many people made hacks and mods of the Nexus Q. Notable hacks include making the Nexus Q capable of running Netflix and gaming on the Nexus Q. An unofficial update to Android 4.4 was added to the Nexus in December 2013.


The Nexus Q can be connected to an HDTV or home stereo system to play digital audio and video content from Google Play or YouTube. The device runs a custom version of Google's Android operating system, based on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The device can be controlled by smartphones and tablets running the Android operating system.


All content displayed by the Nexus Q is streamed over the internet directly from Google Play, no content is stored locally. The device does contain a reported 16GB of internal flash-based storage, however, as is the case with Apple TV, internal storage is simply used for temporarily storing buffered digital content as it is being streamed to the device over the internet from Google Play servers.

Hardware design[edit]

The Nexus Q has a unique spherical shape, with a ring of LEDs running around the circumference of the device separating it into two halves. While music is playing, the LEDs change in correspondence with the music waveforms. If the Q is attached to a TV, it can display a visualizer as well. The top half of the device can be rotated to change the audio volume being output over attached speakers or to other home theater equipment. The surface of the device also contains a capacitive-touch-sensitive button for toggling an audio mute feature. The back of the Q contains an Ethernet port for attaching to home networks. There is also micro-HDMI port for connecting to HDTVs and other home theater equipment for outputting digital audio and video. A S/PDIF optical digital audio connector is included for outputting digital audio to home theater receivers and other compatible stereo equipment. A micro-USB port was also included officially for service and support purposes; during its unveiling during the Google I/O 2012 keynote address, Google Director of Hardware Matt Hershenson announced that it was also to "connect future accessories and encourage general hack-ability". In addition to the digital connections, the Q also includes a row of four analog banana plug audio jacks for attaching directly to a pair of stereo speakers. The Q itself includes a "stereo-grade" amplifier for outputting audio directly to analog speakers.

Wireless capabilities[edit]

The Nexus Q uses many different wireless technologies for connecting with content services and other devices. The device can be controlled by an Android smartphone or tablet over WiFi (dual-band), Bluetooth, or NFC. A demo at Google I/O 2012 showed Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 users connecting to the Nexus Q over WiFi and selecting music and video to be played by the Q. This functionality is similar to Apple's AirPlay technology, however, unlike AirPlay, where content is streamed directly from the controlling device, an Android device merely tells the Q what content to play, and then the content is streamed directly from Google Play to the Q over the internet.


Most criticism of the Nexus Q centers on its relatively high price compared with contemporary media streaming devices and set-top boxes, especially considering its lack of features when compared to other similar devices. The Nexus Q's content options are limited to what Google Play has to offer; there are no options for popular content services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video. There are cheaper TV streaming boxes that offer access to some or all of these additional services.

The New York Times’s technology columnist David Pogue wrote: "Google must have bigger plans for this thing. It’s wildly overbuilt for its incredibly limited functions, and far too expensive. For now, I can think of only one class of customer who should consider buying the black Nexus Q sphere: people whose living rooms are dominated by bowling-ball collections."[9]

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