Google Nexus One: first impressions

This blog post is being done by voice from my new phone. Yes I finally caved in and bought a Google phone.

Well, the first part was voice captured, analysed, and shipped back in 95% accurate transcoding within a few seconds. This part is being written on my old laptop.

My recent trip to SF saw me meet up with an old friend (Mikolaj) who works at the so-called Mountain View Chocolate Factory that has become a part of all our on-line lives. And I was impressed; nice big bright screen, good integration with various on-line services (many Google run, but still ones I already used, like Calendar). And the reviews showed it to be good, with a “fast” processor, etc, etc. It looked like a slightly smaller iPhone, which seemed nice.

And then Linus spoke to the masses, and yeah, he professed he was pleased. While the rest of the community complained about forks and support, I found my 5 year old Nokia, with 1″ blurry screen, half-day standby time, 5 minute talk-time was a bit long in the tooth. So I caved. I got a Google phone; the Nexus One.

I ordered it around noon on Monday. By Wednesday night, a little over 56 hours later, it was in my hands in London, England. Nicely engraved with my name, in its small white box.

The open box experience was similar to what opening Apple products was like; a nice box, smoothly opening to reveal the well mounted product, sheathed in a cardboard mount to ensure it is… displayed… as the box is opened.

The ray of sunshine came down, and all was good.

So, a few second later an the device was free of its transport. It comes wrapped in a cellophane sleeve that tries to explain how to open the case. Accompanying it is a warranty paper, and a single sheet of numbered instructions, 1 to 5, indicating that you need to put the battery in, give it a full charge, and then turn it on. Back on the cellophane, how did it come off. Was there a release button, a catch, a lever, a… hang on… no, slide and it pops open – wow, that was easier than I expected!

Charge charge charge. Tap tap tap. Green LED! Go!

The set up was smooth and straight forward. Since I didn’t have a SIM in phone to start with (it was in the aforementioned Nokia device), it asked me to set up WiFi. Then my Googlemail account, and woosh… my calendar, contacts, and Gmail all came down.

And then.. it advised a new firmware, would I like to install it? Yes. And woosh, it did what it should, and it was all good. Pinch to zoom on maps works (multitouch).

A few seconds later and my email IMAPS and SMTP/STARTTLS was up and running.

Later, a browse the “Marketplace”, the Android App store, And it advised of an updated Maps application.  Then add in the compass, and Snake.

So,w hat are my favourite things:

Google Goggles: scans pictures for things (bar codes, objects, logos) and then displays information on it.

Voice search: someone (Eric) mentioned a book title today but couldn’t remember the author, so I whispered the title to my phone and it showed me the cover, summary, author, etc.

Maps: well, as ever. I have had this on my Blackberry Bold, but the Nexus One has a screen twice the size, and a magnetic compass.

The only downside was the battery life with the GPS turned on today. Admittedly, I did play with it a fair bit. And to its credit, it showed me what was responsible for the power use: the display – it breaks down the consumption of power to the various components of the phone, which is neat. I’ve turned off the GPS for tomorrow trail!

I’ve fired up Facebook and all my contacts from Facebook have (at my choice) been sucked into my phone contact lists (with all their pictures). So I think my contacts are now not stored in my phone, nor on the SIM, but in the cloud.

I’ve had the phone for 24 hours now. I like it. It’s light, and does everything. It was cheaper than an iPhone, and is more open.  What’s not to like thus far.