Notes on the Nexus One

The Nexus One.

The Nexus one is here, and after following the release closely  here are my notes. I own a jailbroken 3GS, and am currently wondering about making the switch to the N1. Why? I absoluteyl love my 3GS, however I’m quite keen on starting with some Android development as I quite like what I’ve seen of the platform so far – and being able to play with my own apps on the go would be a very powerful motivator.

The Google phone isn’t even available for ordering in Australia yet, so whilst pondering the question of “Would you… like to be upgraded?”, I do have some other questions and comments around the phone and its software configuration.

The following is a semi-coherent first draft of where I think it is at at the moment. I’ve launched straight at the gray areas, as the key advantages of supreme multitasking, application development openness and ability to develop apps for the platform on any type of machine (not just a Mac!) are not covered here.

History: 10/01/10 – Version 0.1 (what a cool date!).

Multitouch – what is happening?

AirMouse showing multitouch

Multitouch is the ability to use more than one digit to control aspects of the user interface (UI). It is a key element in the success of the iPhone. Apple holds a patent on MT in the US that they have not used to chase neither Palm nor HTC, whereas in Europe software patenting law is from my soft understanding of it not anywhere as strict.

Now, the situation on the Nexus One is currently

  1. In the US, from what I can gather, multitouch (MT) is either:
    a) blocked entirely – both Google and Third Party (TP) apps, or:
    b) blocked for Google apps only, leaving TP devs with access to MT…. of course muddying this further is the fact that HTC’s own Hero does have MT support. HTC makes the N1 for Google…
  2. Whereas in Europe, it will reportedly:
    a) be fully enabled – as simple as that? Does it mean across the OS or just in certain apps, e.g. will the keyboard let you shift-type with two fingers for all caps, such as on the iphone?

C’mon Google, this is seriously confusing to just about everyone.  The word is that MT is under consideration, but I can only see this as a serious hurdle to ensuring that Android gets a firm standardised platform upon which to unleash the devs.  An iphone or ipod developer will know that the essential basic of multitouch is available to use for anything he develops. Hopefully Google will sort things out, but as to whether we should hold our breath – just look at how long it took Apple to add a 2nd mouse button!

As a standard to rely on, MT is all over the place in Google’s camp. How can the app devs know what phone features to expect?

AMOLED Display

AMOLED: Zero backlight

My old Nokia N85’s display works great inside, but is just about hopeless outside in strong light. It can be incredibly hard to see it in the Aussie sun. As it suffered from accelerated decrepitude, when I switched to the 3GS from the N85 I was a lot happier with 3GS screen. Now, the Nexus One also features an AMOLED screen, one with a brilliant 800 x 480 resolution – how it will fare remains to be seen.

From my experience with the Nokia N810 and its 852 x 480 res, N1’s 800 x 480 will provide an amazing DPI which should make the display great for ereading etc. So as long as the daytime capabilities of the N1 are somewhat better than the N85, it should hopefully not be too much of an issue.

Applications

iTunes has a plethora apps, and I’ve spent at least a few hundred dollars there. Now, what can I expect in the apps store? As my Android owning mates haven’t made as much as a single purchase, you’d think this would be a chicken and egg scenario for app development where the developers won’t show as there’s noone to purchase the apps. (Please also ref #MT above…). Google’s own app store is not browsable without an Android phone. There are other stores available, such as Androlib … from what I’ve gathered the iPhone AppStore is miles & miles ahead, but that’s what’s expected to change for 2010.

iPhone has the solid advantage of a very common hardware platform, but from what I gather with the iPhone 4, this will also change to some extent in 2010 – when the disparity between the 3G and the coming model will in all likelyhood be pretty huge. At least the basic control mechanisms are fully standard, i.e. multitouch, which is something the Android platform is lacking.

On applications, the memory space into which apps can be installed into is severely limited on the N1. Only the first 512MB can be used. Whilst there aren’t that many games currently, the iPhone with its plethora 3D action games would instantly be in trouble  – texture files and videos require lots of space. So if the Android is ever to become a mobile gaming platform, it needs multitouch as well as ability to install appdata onto flash cards.

Tethering & Visual Voice Mail

The 3Gs offers the slickest tethering solution I’ve yet seen; in fact I’m using it now as our connection has lost line sync. With iTunes installed, it’ll come up as a LAN connection when plugged in. No pesky modem dialling required. Extremely simple to use; solid uptime and decent speeds are experienced on the Vodafone network.

Will the Nexus One offer similar simplicity??

Furthermore visual voice mail is great. Australia doesn’t have Google Voice, so will we see VVM here?

Accessories

What is accessories doing here? Well, it’s because it is a not often talked about barrier to switching. Victoria, Australia has some very strict rules regarding the operation of hand helds in a car. They need to be locked in a dedicated cradle if they are to be used at all whilst driving. Are we going to to see accessories that lets phones like the N1 coexist with the Google? Anyone in the situation of having a partner on the iPhone would instantly understand the scenario. Multiple cradles in one car is just not cool.

Hopefully some clever accessory developer will come up with a way to let multiple types of smartphones share one (charging) cradle.

Having said that, Apple’s accessory market is exploding and the amount of e.g. music docking stations such as those provided by Logitech makes it even harder to cross. We have two Logitech docks in our house and the N1 would have to miss out on all of that … unless of course someone comes up with an adapter.

In closing, I’d like to commend HTC on using the Micro USB plug in the N1; I would be able use my N85’s chargers for this, as Micro USB is the new mobile standard for charging and connecting.

That’s it for now. Updates here will be sporadic, once new info is received.