Notes on my Nexus One

Google gave me a Nexus One when Android Developer Labs visited Google Tech User Group Stockholm. (Thank you Google! Do you own my soul now? And another thank you to Peter Svensson that made GTUG happen in Stockholm.) This is possibly the best phone I have ever owned so here are a couple of notes after using it for about a month. My previous phone was a Nokia N95 which was ok but not outstanding at all.

The screen is awesome. With a great resolution (800x480 compared to 480x320 on the iphone) all applications feels crisp and looks great. It is even possible to watch youtube videos with no apparent loss of video quality.

The virtual keyboard is a bit hard to get used to but I think it will prove useful in the end. I probably type faster on it then on a standard phone keyboard. While typing english it is also great with suggestions. Typing in swedish is not so good.....

It is possible to run things concurrently. I can listen to Spotify while browsing the Internet or running sports tracker Endomondo. The possibility to run things in the background and switch seamlessly between applications makes the device more powerful.

I got a 4GB SD card with the phone. This means that I can have a spotify list of 500 songs stored on the device. This is really needed since Spotify does not run well in online 3G mode. 3G probably isn't fast enough yet. Spotify manages online/offline without me having to do anyting more than (un)checking boxes.

There is a GPS in the phone that works really nice. It finds my location really fast. With my Nokia I had to stand still for a minute while the GPS searched for satellites - not good..... This means that Endomondo, Google Maps, Google Earth, foursquare, gowalla, twidroid et al knows my position fairly well most of the time. While being outside..... And this is of course a prerequisite for augmented reality apps - more on that later.

The browser is really good. It has multi touch support so it is easy to navigate pages. I was satisfied with the built-in browser in my N95 but this one is so much better. One reason is the great Google Reader mobile implementation that makes it easy to keep up with feeds when on the move (or in meetings). The possibility of changing the phones orientation to landscape mode makes most web pages readable even when the text is a bit wide.

There are some augmented reality apps for the phone. I have tried Google Goggles and Layar and there probably are a couple more that I don't know of. Goggles is a kind of search through the camera. You point and something and click and in some cases you get a decent search result or a similar picture out of it. It is supposed to work great with landmarks but I don't think any building out in Sollentuna qualifies as such... It also scans text and sometimes finds appropriate search results. I tried it with a wine bottle and it correctly found the site of the wine maker. Other trademarks doesn't work so well. A Cola label didn't work at all. It looks like they are crowd sourcing the results so maybe it is improving organically somehow.... It is a cool app anyway! Layar is a framework for viewing "points of interest" through the devices camera. Layar provide the engine and third parties provide with list of points. Anyone can setup a back end layer that serves points to layar. Examples of layers to use in layar are nearby tweets, geolocated wikipedia entries and max burger joints. Augmented reality are certainly a technology of the future and once screen technologies move away from the handheld to retinal projection or useful head-mounted displays this will really take off. (2020?) An interesting development to follow. [interesting about augmented reality user manuals]

A local app that has been really useful is Johan Nilssons local commute planning tool. It is a front for the journey planner at www.sl.se. It works really great with the GPS and you can save commonly used locations. It is one case when the phone seriously beats your desktop computer.

Another thing that may seem trivial but that REALLY WORKS is the calculator. On a "normal" phone calculating stuff involves lots of button pressing. With the touch screen it is just as easy as a special purpose calculator.

And of course - being a "professional" Java developer - I can code my own apps. Haven't really done much yet but after the current side project there may be some more android coding. And despite being Java it is a really cool platform to work with. There are also lots of initiatives that will bring dynamic languages to the platform. Check - for example - out Mikael Kindborgs effort on bringing Javascript to the platform. He calls it droidscript and blogs about it. I really wish I had more time to try these cool things out.

The least useful but possibly coolest feature is live wallpapers. They are downloadable from the store like any normal app and there really aren't anything more to say about them.... I can have digital rain on my phone and that makes me a bit more happy....

A downside in sweden is that the market for apps is only serving free apps at the moment. There are probably a whole bunch of great apps to pay for that I can't download yet.

Old comments

2010-03-19Sofia Lindberg
Damn you! Now you really made me want to have one too!... ;-)
2010-04-19Hardy Ferentschik
Testing my new HTC Desire for a week now. Overall quite happy except of the lousy battery life time. I get maybe a day without recharging :( Most of the application I tried so far seemed to quite good, even though I miss some consistency in the UI design. I guess Android is just a more open platform than the IPhone one.
2010-04-19Hardy Ferentschik
Btw, I also have a 4 GB memory card, but thinking about upgrading. It is just a question of copying all the data from one memory card to another (outside the phone) or is there more to it? Anyone who knows?