Google Unveils Android's Future, Announces Nexus One - InformationWeek

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1/5/2010
01:10 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Google Unveils Android's Future, Announces Nexus One

Today at a press event at its Mountain View, Ca., headquarters, Google uncovered its plans for the Android mobile platform. Here's a meta liveblog of all the action. Updated with hardware specs. Available today for $179 from T-Mobile, later this year from Verizon Wireless.

Today at a press event at its Mountain View, Ca., headquarters, Google uncovered its plans for the Android mobile platform. Here's a meta liveblog of all the action. Updated with hardware specs. Available today for $179 from T-Mobile, later this year from Verizon Wireless.[The following information was reported by GDGT.com's Ryan Block.]

Google is kicking things off with some recaps of what's been going on in the Android space. Apparently 13 new companies have joined the Open Handset Alliance.

Andy Rubin said, "The G1 was really just the beginning. We said that's not enough, let's do more. Let's work on a thinner device, develop a soft keyboard and widgets for the home screen, and stereo Bluetooth. That's when T-Mobile, with HTC, brought out the MyTouch 3G. We said, let's keep doing more, we're not satisfied yet."

"We thought, let's take some new, powerful hardware, and increase performance. … with this work, the Verizon Motorola DROID landed. For a little history, we had 1 device on 1 carrier in 1 country. Now we have 20 devices on 59 carriers in 48 countries in 19 languages."

There were four major releases of Android in 2009. "In order to prevent fragmentation of the platform, we launched a compatibility test suite."

There are a total of 52 OHA members now.

"Android is contributing to more and more users getting to the web through their mobile phones. We all know this is happening, we're doing it ourselves. We see Android users searching the web up to 30x more than they do on a featurephone."

"It's been a great year, but there's no time to stop and celebrate. We're only in the early stages of a longer journey. We're really proud of the many devices our partners have brought to market. The Sprint HTC Hero came out not too long ago. The Motorola CLIQ, the Samsung Moment… these are only a few examples of these devices."

"To help Android adapt to the needs of consumers, we apply our engineering resources to selected projects with our partners. That's going to continue to be our model - together with those partners, we've increased the volume, variety, and quality of Android phones in the market today. But we want to do more, and that's what today is all about."

"One of the questions we asked ourselves: what if we worked even MORE closely with our partners to bring devices to market that help showcase the great software we're building at Google. So today, we're announcing the Nexus One." Oh god, he's giving the dictionary definition of "nexus" - cliché much?

"The Nexus One is an exemplar of what's possible with Android. It belongs in an emerging category of devices we call 'superphones.'"

HTC CEO Peter Chou has taken the stage.

"A couple years ago we were unveiling the first Android products. This is one of the best designed HTC phones we've ever had. The form-factor, aesthetic - it has a 3.7-inch AMOLED display and 1GHz Snapdragon."

"The combination of the Android experience and HTC hardware and experience make the Nexus One what it is. We are very committed [with Google] to innovation in mobile technology."

Time for a closer look at the Nexus One and its software. Erick Tseng, senior product manager on the Android team. The specs! 3.7-inch OLED display, HVGA (480 x 800) - deep contrast. 1GHz Snapdragon ("It's really fast."). Trackball with multi-color notification LED.

Light and proximity sensors, compass and GPS (as we'd already expected).

Contact points enable inline remotes and mics. Inline noise cancellation: two mics, front and back, which enables nose suppression. Custom engraving on the lower bezel!

"With this great hardware we think we've got half the story. But it's the marriage of hardware and software that make this amazing." Nexus One runs on Android 2.1."

More homescreen panels - five total - for shortcuts and widgets. Showing the (new) news and weather widget. "This is not just any normal weather widget - it uses GPS to know where I'm at, and I can get minute-by-minute temperature and humidity readings. It's this great, highly Googly, scientific way to look at weather."

Showing live wallpaper. Ripples and leaves floating on the home screen. "It's dynamic and moving, and continues to move underneath my personalization." Tap on the water and it ripples. Looks distracting!

New 3D framework in the Android platform. "You now have a mini-computer in your pocket - we wanted to push the 3D capabilities of these devices." The app launcher is also now 3D, kind of like a vertical ribbon or scroll wheel.

New photo visualization system, Google worked with Cooliris on this. The images tip based on accelerometer (a bit more eye candy that doesn't really do anything). Photos cluster based on time, date, location etc.

Background sync with Picasa web albums. Last bit is around voice. "The evolution we've seen in voice recognition in the past year or two is phenomenal."

What if I could enable every single text field in the phone with voice?" Android 2.1 has now voice-enabled every text field in the device.

Demo shot below was spoken in - the speech to text is done on the server side, not locally. Ohh, "special surprise" app: Google Earth for Android!

Now for the real dirt. The Nexus One is available directly from Google's new web store starting today for $529. If you want it with T-Mobile service, it will only cost $179. What's even more interesting is that the Google store will eventually stock and sell all Android devices. They also indicated that both Verizon Wireless and Vodafone will be selling the Nexus One later in the spring of 2010.

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