Hurricane Sandy Rewrites The Script On Google's Nexus News

The launch event for Google’s new Nexus 4 phone and Nexus 10 tablet was supposed to be in New York. That was canceled at the last minute, thanks to Hurricane Sandy. So instead, Google announced the devices in a blog post Monday morning. Isn’t it a pain when real life messes up your carefully scripted tech news?

After the Google blog post revealed the new gadgets, journalists got hurried group walkthroughs and some hands-on time at Google’s San Francisco headquarters. Some reporters expressed frustration to me that this launch was “botched,” unwilling to let it slide for, you know, an act of God.

This is a pretty exciting launch from Google, and I don’t want to act like it doesn’t deserve some attention. The Nexus 10 is the first 10-inch Android tablet worth a damn, and the Nexus 4 is a blazingly fast phone with a great screen, camera, and overall feel. Android 4.2 has some enticing new features.

Android is a real tablet OS now. It has multi-user support, which I sure wish Apple’s OS had. “Tablets with a large display are devices meant to be shared,” said Hugo Barra, Google’s director of product management for Android. And it’s true.

The Nexus 4 boasts this awesome new Photo Sphere mode, which lets you create full 360-degree views of the space all around you, just like in Google Street View. You can even submit your Photo Spheres to Google Maps for actual inclusion in Street View. That’s such a cool idea, and it’s a win-win for Google and for users.

But the whole thing felt perfunctory and uncomfortable, given what was happening on the East Coast. “Glad we’re not in New York,” joked a prominent tech reporter as we all headed into the room. Everybody laughed, and I couldn’t tell how much journo cynicism was infused in it. The PR people were haggard. They had been in NYC preparing for the event, and the game plan was changed on them due to the weather. What a bummer.

But the PR machinery of the tech news world keeps cranking. We’re still not allowed to post full reviews until the embargo is lifted Friday morning. Monday was a day full of real news, the kind where people get hurt, cities get flooded, and history gets made. This kind of natural disaster news will only get more intense. But some people were still preoccupied, thinking about new tablets and phones.