Google lifted the lid on its first-ever own-branded tablet last night, amid ever-starker signs that devices running its Android operating system have been trounced by the iPad in the growing slate market.

Dubbed the Google Nexus 7 and manufactured by Asus, the entry-level 8GB version of the slate will sell for £159 – significantly undercutting the iPad. A 16GB model is priced £199.

google nexus 7 official

In line with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the Nexus 7 features a relatively compact seven-inch HD screen and dispenses with a rear-facing camera, 3G support and microSD card slot.

However, perhaps surprisingly given the price point, it also houses a powerful Tegra 3 quad-core processor and makes room for a 1.2 megapixel front-facing snapper for video calls and NFC chips for contactless payments.

The Nexus 7 also debuts the latest version of Android, aka Jelly Bean. This adds a suite of new features to the platform, including the Siri-rivalling Google Now voice commands app and the Google Chrome browser.

Also new with Android 4.1 is more scope for customising home screen layouts via resizable widgets and a revamped notifications bar.

The Google Nexus 7 is up for pre-order now in the UK, with orders set to ship mid July.

This is also when Google expects to roll out Jelly Bean to the first devices to be updated to the new iteration of the OS. These are the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Google Nexus S and Motorola Xoom.

By Jonathan Leggett