You plug your stereo and/or TV into it, and it streams your music and video from Google’s cloud. Its built-in amplifier allows it to also operate as a self-contained unit with speakers plugged directed into the back. You control it mostly with an Android phone, but you can also operate it manually. The top half of the device doubles as a giant volume knob. It is the first device Google has both designed and built itself. So that it could closely supervise construction, it used a contract manufacturer in the United States, not in Asia. (For the full hardware story, see “It’s a Sphere! The Inside Story of Nexus Q, Google’s Music Hardware Gamble.”)
Think of it as Google’s answer to Apple’s Airplay and Apple TV rolled into one spherical device, but with a key difference. Because Google keeps all of your music and video in its cloud – instead of on various devices – you can visit a friend who owns a Nexus Q, and temporarily comingle your entertainment. If you don’t like what your friend is playing, you can use your Android phone to cut it off and play what you want to hear. It is a social-ready, consumer-oriented, beautiful hunk of electronics.