Google held a press conference today in Mountain View, California at 10AM PST (6PM British Time) to announce their very own Android Smartphone: the Google Nexus One, which was developed “in very close partnership with HTC”. Erick Tseng, Senior Product Manager, went as far to say that the Nexus One “belongs in a new category of devices we call Superphones”. Owning a Superphone may sound impressive, but does it live up to all the hype we’ve seen over the past few weeks about Google’s Nexus One mobile phone?
As previously reported, the announcement confirmed that the Google Phone, the Nexus One comes packed with a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile Processor and 512MB RAM and ROM to match. Also packed in to the sleek design is a 3.7” AMOLED capacitive touchscreen (480×800), a MicroSD slot which is expandable to 32GB, not forgetting the trackball, which also acts as a multi-colour notification LED.
You’ll also find a 5MP camera with an LED flash at the back of the device. Behind the scenes, the Nexus One also comes packed with a few goodies, including light and proximity sensors, a compass, GPS and an accelerometer.
Prior to the event, there were many rumours about a specially modified version of Android designed to run on Google’s device. You’ll find the N1 running Android 2.1, and all applications found on Motorola’s Droid are also present in the N1 out of the box. Google has made some changes to what we’ve seen of Android before. You’ll be able to utilise five screens for home screen panels so that you can add more widgets to your phone. Another nice touch is location aware weather, thanks to the GPS unit in the N1.
If you want to customise things more, you can use some of Google’s ‘Live Wallpapers’ which are animated, with some responding to your touch. Google are keen on mentioning how the Nexus One uses 3D frameworks for their improved interface.
When launching applications, you won’t find the drag and pull menu at the bottom of the screen like you’re used to – instead it’s been replaced by a button which shows all your applications in a 3D scroll interface. It’s a nice touch, and I think I’ll prefer it over the old menu. There’s also a new look photo gallery with more 3D effects in place. You’ll be shown all your albums, ordered by time, data and location. If you tap on one, all the photos will snap in to place, allowing you to flick between them using a 3D interface. It certainly looks great, so I hope it’s functional too!
Voice control was introduced to Android, and implemented on the Droid, allowing you to say a place you wish to go and have directions given to you. On the Nexus One, Google have taken this technology even further by allowing enabling voice on each text field on the device. This means that you can text people by dictating to the phone, or dictate a destination in Google maps.
During the announcement, Erick Tseng also announced another application that will run on Android in the near future… Google Earth! Like its desktop counterpart, Google Earth on Android will allow you to spin around the Earth and zoom in to wherever you want to see. Again, this utilises the 3D framework on the N1, allowing you to zoom through your surroundings just like on the desktop. Helping to tie everything in, you can use the voice control to search for locations in Google Earth, just like on other applications.
Talking about applications… At the moment, you can only install applications on the internal storage, which is limited to 512MB ROM, and not the SD card. Google said that this is for piracy reasons, although an upgrade for installing applications on the SD card is on the way!
So, the phone is great – or at least it seems so – but how are you going to get hold of it? Described as a “new way to purchase a consumer phone”, Google are introducing their web store. The concentration of Google’s store is simplicity, and you can purchase a Nexus One in USA from today. As well as the Nexus One, Google plan to include devices from other manufacturers, like Motorola’s Droid, to the web store. As previously rumoured, you can purchase the Nexus One without a service for $529.00. If you buy with T-Mobile (USA) the phone is available for $179.00 with a two year contract. If you’re not a fan of T-Mobile, Verizon and Vodafone are also getting the N1 in Spring.
To purchase the phone using Google’s web store, you’ll need a Google account with a Google Checkout account too. If you want to customise your phone more, you can engrave the back of it – this is limited to two lines of text. The store is launching today in the US, and is also shipping to test markets in the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong, which is great news for us eager Brits, however you’ll have to wait until Spring if you’d like to buy the Nexus One on contract in the UK when it’ll be appearing on the Vodafone network.
Overall, I can’t wait to get my hands on the Nexus One; with the 1GHz Snapdragon in tow, this thing will fly! Let’s hope it lives up to expectations, which is harder to do amongst all the hype surrounding every new product coming on the market…
UPDATE: I’ve now got my hands on one! I bought one directly from Google and you can read what I think of it in my Nexus One Review!