Nexus One: A Gadget for Google Addicts


If I haven’t admitted this in my earlier egotistical posts, now would be a perfect time. My name is Irina, and I am a Google addict. Anything Googly you can think of, I use: search (of course!) for anything from which mountain cabin to pick to translations from Dutch, Gmail, Voice, Calendar, Checkout, Maps, GTalk, Documents, Reader, Gears, Picasa, Health, etc. I even attempted to understand Google Wave.

Nexus One was a logical choice for my next mobile toy (to replace two other HTCs of varying ages) due to its tight integration with everything Google. No, I am not an iPhone user. Never owned one, but toyed enough with those belonging to friends, exes, foes, random strangers to get the idea. But this post is not about how Nexus is the iPhone “killer.”

So, my first impressions about Nexus One for those of you who asked. Nothing geeky, just initial thoughts of an end-user. Let’s start from the outside.

It’s very elegant. Gorgeous, in fact. It’s light and slim. It is thinner and lighter than the iPhone, actually. I have pens thicker than this smartphone. And my butt looks more equalized, sans a bulge on one side, when I carry it in the back pocket of my jeans. Talking about priorities 😉 Tactile pleasures abound, the device is smooth and silky.

Nexus One: Ups and downs

Everything you might’ve read about the tech specs is true:

Beautiful big touchscreen, bigger than the iPhone’s (3.7 inch, 480 x 800 OLED) with self-adjusting brightness is a work of art. Scrolling through three views, 3D, apps screen, re-arrange and add/delete shortcuts, CoolIris in the gallery, vertical-to-horizontal movements and tipping is all just too pretty.

Live wallpapers are eye candy. I am now on the one with lake and falling autumn leaves. When you touch the screen, the water ripples.

Quadband, so it works on European trips.

The trackball I didn’t care much for, and don’t even like the idea of it shining in various colors to alert me of notifications – I have set up beeps for that. Twitter notifications oink, email dings.

Proximity sensor is one of the features I really like about Nexus. You start talking and the screen is disabled to avoid random “Opps, my left cheek (accidentally) hit the hang up button” situations. When you take the phone a little further away from your ear, the screen is enabled and lights up, making it easy to press hold, mute or speakerphone buttons.

The Snapdragon 1 GHz core processor makes it very fast. Really, the fastest I’ve seen even with this kind of heavy 3D and a plethora of apps running at the same time. One minor inconvenience: when you want to kill a running app, it’s not that easy to find it in the UI. But no worries, it will crash on its own.

Camera is a 5MP average camera, but does have built-in flash.

Taken at night with Nexus One

Touch buttons at the bottom of the screen – back (sadly, no forward), home, search, menu — set them to vibrate, otherwise you’d be hard pressed to know whether you actually pressed hard enough to get the desired outcome.

In my experience with Nexus One, I did notice that I was pushing buttons and UI clicking more than I expected to get what I needed.

No physical keyboard takes a bit of an adjustment for those fat fingers. But no worries, because…

Most activities can be performed via voice input: Twittering, texting, emails – pretty much every text field. Good in theory, but Nexus needs a lot more work in voice recognition features. “Voice keyboard sucks indeed” in my Gtalk over Nexus chat was interpreted as “Voice keyboard loving me.” I realize I have an accent, but that undecipherable? Voice activated Google search is, nevertheless, a neat idea.

Battery life is comparable to many other smartphones I’ve used. Meaning the charger is your next best friend.

Compass, cell tower positioning, navigation and GPS receiver – all helpful, even though not entirely accurate.

Having been once accused of owning more cables than an average male geek, I am all about cable interoperability and felt awkward adding yet another one to my arsenal. Nexus uses mini USB cable, so no re-use with my Nikon D90/external hard drives/etc. More to pack.

Market is Google’s alternative to iPhone’s App Store. Google Checkout rocks again with one click buying. Comments and ratings are useful. Not all apps are very stable, and I see a lot of duplication. What’s Google’s approval process, I wonder?

Contacts management was a fun exercise. At first, I freaked out when I couldn’t see the contacts from my SIM card. All is lost, I thought, until I found the Import Contacts option. So, contacts imported and synced with Google Voice contacts. Then came contact lists from not-related email accounts, Facebook, as well as attempts to import contacts from other applications. So now, my Google Voice Contacts/Nexus One Contacts are “nicely” synchronized (=a bit of a mess) and include everyone I ever came in contact with in any way over the past decade, and this is not necessarily what I want.

But the good thing about synchronization is that email and calendar (oh well, and contacts) are always completely synced up in real time without having to be attached to a computer or any manual syncing endeavors.

Call quality: As long as you’re not using the provided (stereo) headset that happened to turn my voice into mambo jumbo, you should be good with all that noise-canceling beauty that Nexus One offers. Oddly though, the mic is in the far corner and not in the center of the bottom panel.

Speaking of the headset… I am convinced I just got a bad one… Pandora was one of the first applications I downloaded, gave it a little spin and paused it before jumping on my first conference call on the new gadget. Five minutes later, I was hyperventilating with Massive Attack roaring over the caller on the other side, and me frantically looking for a way to stop the music without dropping the call. Couldn’t find one. See, the headset controls both the built-in mic, as well as music playback. Without “muting” music apps with priority on calls. And I pushed the mic button (also the play button). I guess there’re folks out there who may listen to Pandora while on a conf call. But I – mortified — had to excuse myself, drop the call, kill the damn Pandora and dial back in.

Is Nexus an enterprise phone?

Perhaps. I still cannot get it to work with MS Exchange, as the Nexus app keeps crashing or going as far as displaying a stark black screen for Inbox, while allowing me to compose and send (!) emails through submenus. Additionally, if you’re looking for enterprise phones with all the corporate security policies boogie woogie, you know to look at Blackberry and that same iPhone, which both provide better security options. Unless, of course, your shop is a Google addict just as moi. Then again, there’s this whole cloud storage idea…

There you have it. I’ve been using Nexus for only a couple of days now, but all this hype is just exhausting! It’s just a smartphone. It is definitely better than any other Android device. Nexus One is the (for now) crème de la crème of devices built on the Android stack. No wonder they call 2.1 Éclair. But it is also only the first little step for Google.

To me though, it’s a keeper. Nexus One is the first phone that allows me to free myself from the laptop and still do everything I need to do.

Mini CMS, online content, Web 2.0, web publishing

Are you Hackable? Google Will Tell You

Yes, Google’s got your back. But only (for now) if you’re a WordPress fanatic. A new security feature from Google Webmaster Tools is in the works.

An interesting twist on this story is how Movable Type has been taking advantage of WordPress vulnerabilities, even before the Gee announced this new security addition to Webmaster Tools. There’s no better time to launch an assault other than when the enemy is recovering from a wound.  MT even goes on to quote the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to prove that its better than WP. Didn’t know DHS does blogging security nowadays, but I guess they watch it all.

The funny thing is that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a handful of other U.S. government agencies appear to be using WordPress as the blogging platform of choice, as reported by several sources. Ironic, huh?

I am not saying that WP is perfect (even though, I use it myself for this very blog). The baby was down just this morning die to the denial-of-service attacks.

Full article on CMSWire: Are You a Hacker Target? Google Will Tell You

online content, search

Cuil Is Not That Kewl

You’d think that after Google, nobody would even dare to venture into the search engine market. That apparently doesn’t include some former Googlers who launched Cuil – the newest search engine that describes its mission as “to index the whole Internet” and “analyze and sort out its pages so you get relevant results.”

Cuil (pronounced “cool”) claims to have a “fundamentally different approach” to search engines due to its new architecture and algorithms. Sounds good in theory, but how does it actually do in reality?

Cuil Is Not the Google Killer It Would Like to Be