Nexus One

I've been talking about this phone since I first heard about it and Google finally announced it today. Some of the roomers were true, and some weren't...

This phone is fast! This is one of the most notable points from many of the reviewers who have been able to get their hands on it. It is much faster than the Droid, hands down. It has a 1 GHz mobile processor (this laptop I'm using is only 2.5 GHz). It boasts a brilliant 3.7 inch OLED screen, a technology that has yet to make it to the iPhone. It also posesses a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, compared to the iPhone's 3 megapixel camera - with no flash. This beefier camera will be great for use with Google Goggles... something that has yet to make it's way to the iPhone (weather it ever will being questionable at best). No tactile keyboard, though the number of tactile keyboards winning rave reviews is dwindling. Software keyboards are in and the terrible inconstancies of qwerty keyboard design and layout have left the general consumer's fingers in a state of utter confusion.

Though the Nexus One IS an unlocked GSM phone, and has the capability to accept SIM cards of any type, it does not possess the required frequency to operate on AT&T's 3G network though... So you can use it on both T-Mobile and AT&T, however it wont work on AT&T's 3G network (which has VERY limited availability compared to Verison and Sprint's 3G networks), only on EDGE. Also of interest, is that Google's planning to release a CDMA version of the Nexus One this Spring that will be available on Version's network.

So the real question is why is the Nexus One significant, if at all?

Well, the honest answer is that it's significance really is not yet that apparent. However, subtlties like Google selling the phone themselves, and T-Mobile having such a loose affiliation with the entire project may prove more significant later in the game. Android does offer a few things that the iPhone does not though... Google Goggles, as previously mentioned, is a prime example... the ability to take pictures of anything with your phone and have Google anticipate what you're attempting to find or figure out. Google Voice works swimmingly with Android and is only available on jail broken iPhones. The Google Maps app on the Android platform is far and away better than that of the iPhone's. Even though this was one of the core apps on the original iPhone, Google has added turn-by-turn, voice guided directions to it's Android app. It's obvious that Google would have no incentive really to add these capabilities to the iPhone, when they can use it to enhance their own platform. Understandable.

What's keeping me from getting the Nexus One? The lack of 3G on AT&T's network, which I'm currently attached too via contract, and the inability to play protected iTunes music. For those that do not have the intention of using their phone as their iPod as well (and I said iPod not MP3 player, because if you were looking for an MP3 player, the Android OS can do that...), there is nothing keeping you from switching to Android and the "Google Experience". I did fail to mention the large difference in apps for Android vs. iPhone, but really the apps are there, it's just a matter of a smaller selection, and that will change with time, especially with the Android platform being open source, and Apple's restrictions on the app store being so restrictive.

I'm excited.

Moore's Law

The end of the year brings into focus some of major advancements in computing and technology: Kindles, GPS and turn-by-turn directions, iPods, Google, Blackberries, and the iPhone, just to name a few.

I recall when I first learned of Moore's Law thinking that it was some sort of geek constructed joke. No. Moore's Law is an actual thing, and it has held true for the past 40 years, since it's conception. Moore's Law states that the size of hardware will reduce and computing power will increase by factor of two every 18-24 months. Think about that... computing power has steadily increased - exponentially actually - for the past 40 years, with no end in sight. It's amazing. In many ways Moore's Law is more than just a name for the trend line, it's also a major driver for the industry... companies like Intel want to be the ones that keep up. Moore's Law both tracks and encourages industry improvement.

I resist the urge to expound on this. Read up on it, it's amazing isn't it?

Cell Contracts - The demise of the industry

Why don't you have the iPhone, the Droid? The answer may well be that you don't like the devices or don't believe your cell use nessesitates such devices (this is debatable), but the more likely answer is you are under contract with another company and aren't willing to spend a fortune to switch.

The current model of cell phones and cell company exclusivity as a way to get you to choose one provider over another (iPhone and AT&T, Storm and Verizon for example), will be challenged shortly. The Nexus One, rumored to be coming out in early to mid January, will be a contractless, unlocked GSM phone. Not the first unlocked GSM phone, no, but many are pointing to it as a first step on Google's part in releasing an Android phone that is more about the device itself and less about the network that it's on. Also, Apple's contract with AT&T is expected to expire, without renewal. As if this weren't enough, Google is trying to buy up the 'White Space' and put into place free wifi. White space being the part of the TV airwaves that is not being used. Google's idea is of course, get the internet into as many hands as possible. They're going to attempt to strong arm the cell industry into becoming free providers of bandwidth... an interesting struggle I would guess, judging from AT&T's inability to keep up with the data demands of iPhone users - paying users. Google makes its money by offering free services connecting consumers to the services they want, adds and product placement is where the money is for Google.

What's holding us back? These subsidies for cell phones, in exchange for the signing of a two year contract, are what is holding us back. This has led people to believe that cell phones are only $100, $200, or $300 dollars, when in actuality they're more like $400, $500, and $600. Realisiticly though, the subsidies are not all that significant. Consider this: a two year iPhone contract amounts to a total of $2,400 of the course of two years... guaranteed income basically. That amounts to barely 2% that they give back to the consumer in exchange for the contract, hardly a deal in my opinion. Not to mention, you can now get netbooks for $50, or free even, by signing up for a two year data plan.

It is in the consumers best intrests for cell phones to become unlocked and available on many networks. If this were the case then the consumer would suddenly have the power to decide which network suites them the best. The iPhone and AT&T is glairingly obvious example. While AT&T rates dead last in customer service, they have a rediculiously limited 3G coverage area, and their network performance has been chalanged as of late, the masses continue to flock to their service, buying the iPhone. There is no question, AT&T has gained significant market share based off of their, currently exclusive, contract with Apple. Questionable though, the amount of people signing up for AT&T because of their high degree of reliability and data speeds.

The iPhone really has significantly impacted the industry. Before the iPhone, cell phone data usage was limited to near zero, even on BlackBerrys and other smartphone. The iPhone makes using the internet on your phone pleasant; so many reasons. You can download music, apps, videos, and all of these things can be done - and could be done - on other devices but the iPhone made all of this easier... YouTube and Pandora are just a click away. The mobile browser on the iPhone and it's similarity to your desktop web experience plays a large role in this dramatic increase in data usage. Since the iPhone came out on AT&T they have seen an outrageous increase in data usage. The new statistic AT&T is using is that 3% of users account for 40% of data consumption. Of course, this is an excuse for AT&T to explain away why they have so many dropped calls, and poor performance even in major cities, not a reason for them to get their act together and fix it. Now there is talk of AT&T offering incentives for iPhone users to use less data. This boggles my mind. You can buy certain amounts of data or unlimited data, and when you actually use the service you've been paying for they freak out?

Suddenly now, the more average consumer is beginning to realize that there is a difference between 2G (Edge) and 3G data speeds. Everyone wants 3G now, why wouldn't you? It's not as if 3G is a new technology really, we're already moving onto 4G. However, AT&T's lack of 3G coverage flew under the radar until people began buying devices that advertised being 3G and then they suddenly realized they didn't have 3G in their area. Verizon's new "There's a map for that" adds point this out. Instead of increasing their 3G coverage, AT&T come sup with a rebutle add campanige and attempts to sue Verizon. Of course the rebutle add campaign doesn't really talk about the meat of the problem, AT&T's 3G coverage, but instead turns to their voice coverage, entirly separte things.

I must say though, I really dislike CDMA. I don't care if Verizon and Sprint have better service, or larger footprints, I want a GSM phone. The rest of the world uses SIM card technology. While we can roam in foreign countries with our GSM phones, until they're all unlocked, we're still behind our European friends who can purchase a prepaid local number SIM card, pop it in their phone and suddenly have cheap connectivity while on vacation.

Cloud Computing

How long will it take? That's really the only question there is surrounding cloud computing. The fact of the matter is, the lack of reliability and general incompetence and backwards thinking associated with your company's or school's IT department, will eventually become too much to deal with. Google, along with many other companies, have come up with a solution to this: let them store all of your information, keep it safe, maintain it, and as a bonus you don't have to worry about the large costs associated with upgrading and the headache that will no doubt issue associated with aging hardware and budget problems. What e-mail client does your company use? Browser version? OS? ...old is the answer.

It may take time, but soon enough we'll all be computing on the cloud. I admit, I too did not see the utility in switching over from Microsoft Word and local computing to google docs for example, but with the use of multiple computers per person growing, this will make more and more sense. Especially now that google docs is perfectly capable of handling Microsoft's .docx format. Oddly enough, yet too late, Microsoft has also jumped on the cloud computing model, and if memory serves me, the next version of office will be incorporating online storage and management of your documents in a big way.

The best part about google, and what gives them a leg up in the arena, is the way in which they make their money allows them to offers services such as these for free. This will make them much more attractive, and eventually paying $99 for MobileMe, and $300 for Microsoft Office will become harder and harder to justify.

Cloud computing also represents a new direction in computing in general, which is the general understanding that you're really not on the computer until you have a broadband internet connection. It really does make sense though, for most of our computing to transition to the browser. This way the computers that we have can be less powerful, yet maintain or even increase productivity level. As hard as it will be for some of us, myself included, the idea of a bigger and beefier computer will soon fade in favor of larger bigger and better computers we all access from cheap and plentiful terminals.

Twitter – Isn’t that just Facebook status updates?

A mention of Twitter will likely elicit one of two responses, either it’s loved or they have no idea what you’re talking about. When I first heard about Twitter I had much the same reaction. I had heard some buzz about it but didn’t really know what exactly I was supposed to do with it.

Just like everything else, Wave being a prime example, the utility is largely contingent on the participation of your circle of friends. Twitter is a way to communicate updates but it’s so much more as well. Including the ability to get updates from things like @CNNBrk and @MacRumors. I find that I’ve become less and less interested in seeing the entire “News Feed” on Facebook. I’d really just rather see everyone’s updates. I like the fact that their limited to 150 characters… that’s great. In all honesty, if you want more pick up the phone.

I realize your average person might not be as addicted/connected to the web as I, but I totally like reading my status updates and Twitter until I see stuff that I know I’ve already read. This is far more easily accomplished with the advent of devices like iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. However, even back in the day of my old, sorry, pathetic flip phone (didn’t even have that fancy screen on the outside), I totally had Facebook sending me text regarding anything that happened. This, of course, is far worse now.

When I got my first iPhone that was really my first experience with a smart phone. This, though, was before apps and all of that jazzy stuff that now makes the iPhone so great. It was not until I switched to the Blackberry that my ridiculous addiction to constant updates began. Anyone that’s been in college or had a job with an active e-mail account linked to a Blackberry will attest, there’s nothing like hearing that there is free food in the office immediately, or getting the e-mail about class being canceled when you wake up.

But even on the Blackberry, I was never this bad… The addiction started there, but it wasn’t until I had the Twitter and Facebook apps on the iPhone that I became truly obsessed and the instances of me accessing Facebook and Twitter from the actual web became so infrequent. Facebook is entirely different on the iPhone… all I get are the updates, none of this so and so just found a cow in some farm animal game… I’ve slowly weeded out the verbose, uninteresting, or consistently manic posters as well. Twitter is fantastic because all of that is already done for me. It’s sort of an exclusive group of people, whom I only follow because I want to hear about. Lets face it, Facebook is out of control. I don’t really have 772 friends that I want to hear about or from all the time, but Facebook would lead you to believe so.

More importantly with the ever-increasing use of Facebook it’s becoming less and less a place where personal information or thoughts really should reside. Friends with your boss? Maybe a co-worker that you’re really not all that close with? There was a time when Facebook was just a bunch of college students and just about anything went, now with brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, co-workers and whole companies for that matter, I find myself turning to Twitter for a more free space. I know my audience on Twitter; I don’t know who is going to be looking at my Facebook.

Did you know that when you add Network, say the company you work for, all of the sudden all of your privacy settings are ignored and the whole entire network can see everything, regardless of your previous settings? I realize this has recently been bandaged, but I think that’s just ridiculous.

Open up a twitter account and protect your Tweets. You’ll soon realize how amazing it is.

The Google Phone: Nexus One

Okay, I’m really excited. Not only is Android a really fantastic operating system, but the devices that it’s been coming out on have been interesting as well. One thing I really don’t like is that the whole world seems to have gotten confused with the Droid thing. Here’s the deal: Droid is a phone, it runs Android (Google’s operating system), Android is on several other devices, and the Droid is not the only ‘Google’ phone out there...

That aside, the reviews on the Droid are fantastic. I’ve gotten a chance to play with one as well! My initial impressions when I saw it were that that little square on the inside was hideous... and it remains so. The funny part is that most of the reviewers seem to have disregarded the QWERTY keyboard in favor of the soft keyboard. Still no multi-touch, however the real star isn’t the hardware, it’s the Android operating system.

This is the only operating system that has anything against the iPhone. Windows Mobile has sucked since it’s conception, and lets face it, Palm just decided to update their operating system from the same crappy Windows 3.1 style they had back when I had a Palm III in 7th grade. Android has apps, which are very in, of course not as many, but who could really expect that? One of the great things that it has going for it, besides the ridiculously amazing ascetics, are the Google apps. The Google Maps app for example has turn by turn audible directions... for free. There is also the search feature that is right on your home screen which is outrageously helpful and amazing. (It secretly does way more than just a web search...)

My opinion is that Google got upset with how Apple is with it’s apps, and how closely it governs what goes on the iPhone (case and point Google Voice). Because of this, they seem to have abandoned the iPhone in a sort of way. They started making their own OS and developing their own apps for their own OS, which are all better than the apps for iPhone. Notice how the apps for the iPhone the maps and earth apps are great, but incomparable to the Android versions? Of greater note, no other Google apps exist besides the catch all Google App, for the iPhone. This app is really just a list of links to web apps, however the Android OS can sync all of your Google stuff, or information you store in the cloud... seamlessly.

More and more people in the tech community are transitioning almost exclusively to things like, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Wave, Google Contacts, Google Calendar, GChat - all of this stuff - and it all works with your Android phone as soon as you put in your google username and password.

I want one.

Good news, Google seems to be developing their own phone... with a newer, faster, better Android operating system. The Nexus One. I want this device. And I’m not going to lie... I’m probably going to get it when it becomes available. It’s rumored to be an unlocked GSM phone (works with AT&T and T-mobile). They’ve supposedly given one to most all of the employees in an all hands meeting. I got a pen at my last all hands meeting, it had some horrific smelling hand sanitizer though, so that’s good

I have to say though... my apps really are keeping me glued to my iPhone. Also keeping me on my iPhone and with a MobileMe subscription is the ability for everything to sync over the air from my laptop, desktop and iPhone. But... Android can do the same, I just don’t yet have one.

Google is taking over

Okay... listen if you're not using Gmail right now, delete your old e-mail, or set up forwarding, and transfer your life over to Gmail. Next, add everyone you know as a GTalk contact and stop using Facebook chat and AIM. After you're done with those two things, ask someone (like me) to give you a Google Wave invite, and then go read about why it's important. After you're done with all of that look into Google Reader. Add every website you visit regularly to Google Reader, and now you have one place get all of your new news and information. I forgot to tell you, also you need to get a Google Voice number...

Ps, this sight is run by Blogger... guess who owns it...?

Here's the thing: I don't care that google is taking over and I don't find myself concerned with privacy either. If you're really concerned that someone has all of your personal information, think about how your ISP has everything that you ever do on the internet...

Actually I love it. Now, almost like when I had a BB and wanted everyone to be on BBM, I just get annoyed that some of the people that I talk to regularly aren't on things like GTalk and Wave - or Twitter for that matter. Seriously, GTalk is the new AIM and Twitter is the new Facebook.

GO.

Podcasts

Podcasts have been around for a long time now. Back in the early days of my black and white, 20 GB iPod, I tried getting into them, but it just didn’t take. Over these past few years, I didn’t really pay much attention. Randomly the other day saw Leo Laporte when I was going through the iTunes store. I used to watch him on ZDTV, then TechTV and now G4, back in the days when they weren’t even on all day long. At some point it would switch to a channel that played online church services...

Anyways, I stated listening to him again, and LOVE IT. Podcasts are so amazing. I highly recommend looking into them. If you like technology, listen to anything that Leo authors.