Five things you should know about the Nexus One
The curtain is up on 2010 with the arrival of the Google Nexus One Android phone. Now that we're all suitably saturated with the pomp, ceremony and back slapping of the launch event and perfectly blinded with all the features, here are five things to consider if you're thinking of buying one - some good, some bad and some, well, just worth thinking about.
1) It's made by HTC
One of the most mouth-watering prospects of the Nexus One is that it's like the Palm Pre, the iPhone and all the BlackBerry devices - both the hardware and the software are designed by the same company and recent history points to this being a good recipe for success. So, it's a slight worry that this Google phone is actually manufactured by HTC - a company that already has plenty of ideas and working models of Android devices of its own.
Of course, the iPhone isn't actually made by Apple. It's the resulting work of around 30 different manufactures, but the difference is that it's all under pretty tight Cupertino control. The worry with the Nexus One is over just how much input HTC might have had in the design.
That said, HTC makes a set of fantastic handsets of its own but, the point is, that this does mean that the Nexus One isn't all that different to Android phones we've used before. It's also missing the HTC Sense custom UI which has helped make the Hero so popular. It's faster and slicker but perhaps not the game-changer some were hoping for.
2) It runs Android 2.1
The Nexus One will be the only phone running the latest version of the Google mobile OS, Android 2.1, but there will be firmware updates available for the Motorola Milestone and other capable phones eventually. What this offers Nexus One users is a few attractive UI changes including a choice of Live Wallpapers, with which you can interact, a change to a five screen homepage with short cuts, the removal of the slideout app menu for a rolling 3D interface and a more responsive on-screen keyboard.
There's still no multi-touch functionality despite all the capacitive touchscreen and all the capability being there, but you can double tap your finger to zoom short of the pinch and stretch you'd expect on the iPhone.
Where it does trump the Apple handset is in Voice Control. Every text box can be voice dictated rather than certain voice activated functions.
3) It's rather similar to the Motorola Milestone
There's certainly enough key differences to make the Nexus One an improvement, but the phone is a lot closer to what's already out there than either Google or HTC might like to admit. The absence of the hard keyboard will divide opinion as usual but it's really the jump up to the 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, the doubling of the RAM and the AMOLED display over the straight LCD which give the Google phone the edge. What you'll end up with is something faster, slicker and with a better screen for both touching and viewing - certainly an advantage but nothing for Milestone early adopters to get upset about.
4) It has dock pins
Yes, cue the dollar, pound and euro signs in the eyes of home audio manufacturers everywhere, the Nexus One has the first of what we hope to be a standard Android docking system to give all the gadget-integration fun iPod and iPhone users have enjoyed for quite some time now. Hard to know whether there'll be quite the explosion that the Apple products have caused, but the steady rise of both the Android OS and smartphone uptake should see the system through. Keep a close eye on those four connectors at the bottom of the Nexus One and products soon to fit them.
5) It has noise cancelling microphones
Much like many good Bluetooth headsets, the Nexus One features two internal microphones. The primary mic does the job of any normal one in a mobile phone and the secondary is used to detect the difference between external noises and the user's voice. The erroneous sound can then be blocked and the quality of the call left clear. If it works well, then neither wind, trains nor emergency sirens should bother you at all.