Our Nexus One arrived in the UK on January 7th last week. The fast delivery time was impressive, and the animations on power up showing off the quality of the screen satisfying. But what of the experience of using the phone and migrating from an iPhone? Is a Nexus One better than an iPhone? I’ve been with mine long enough to offer you my thoughts so far.
The Nexus One is a productivity phone
I’ve been learning Chess openings with my Nexus One, and I’ve found the process provides a great example of how Android offers multitasking to great advantage. Imagine playing a game of Chess on the iPhone. Every text message interferes or shuts the game down, and to use Safari to browse the web would mean much the same. Save your chess game and switch the game off, open a browser, wait to connect to the Internet and search for your desired result.
Multitasking has made a big difference to the way I’m using a phone. With Android, I hold the “home” button and I’m presented with the icons for applications that are running. I switch between the Chess match and browser quickly and easily, ready to return on assimilation of my next moves. While I’m playing, an email icon appears in the top left of my screen. I quickly drag down the message bar at to see who the email is from. It’s not important, so I return the message bar and continue with Chess.
It’s the speed in which I’ve been able to switch between applications that has impressed me the most. You can do more with speed, especially if you’re a power user. Android OS seems to lend itself to sharing much more easily, too. You can Tweet a URL via Seesmic from the browser for example – an option that does not exist with the iPhone.
The iPhone is king of usability
I struggled for the first few days to really come to terms with Android. Perhaps I’d been spoiled by the iPhone’s ease of use? Though the iPhone screen isn’t quite as large, nor as detailed and visually brilliant, it is sensitive and usable in a far more intuitive way. I find myself being more careful using the Android screen, its over sensitivity can produce some unforgivable typos in text and email.
Directly underneath the Nexus screen, there are 4 buttons. I’ve spent a long time trying to work out why Google didn’t include them in the on-screen display rather than the phone case. If you need an option offered by one of these four little buttons, you have to press, not touch – creating two different ways to interface with the Nexus One. On occasion, however, I’m glad the Nexus One has these buttons. The more I’m using them, the more I grow used to them.
Nexus One Beats iPhone at Search
Google, the people famous for search, made a phone. It turns out they made it brilliant at search. I love voice recognition. We were playing with it in a noisy pub yesterday evening and it worked every time. I searched for “The Empress of India, Victoria Park Village”, a received a perfect local result for exactly that.
Keeping up to date with search technology may be easier with Android in the long run, especially with Android’s obvious prowess in augmented reality applications. Applications such as Google’s Goggles and Layar are brought to life by the obvious power of the hardware inside the Nexus One. Layar, particularly, opens up an entirely new world of user engagement and marketing opportunities beyond pure SEO and PPC. I’m an instant fan of the idea behind “Spotted by Locals” and “Pubs Galore” – both perfect examples of vertical (local) search applications that rely on community edited resources. Now imagine, along your journey seeing advertising banners painted on walls in Augmented Reality, with the ability to click and visit the sites behind them. Android makes this much more possible, and Nexus One is the phone that could soon bring AR to the mainstream. I’m glad I have this phone, because in some way it feels relevant to my job to know what new developments are out there.
Architectural showcase: the new Market Hall in Rotterdam
The experience of migration
Migrating all of my iPhone contacts was exceptionally slick and easy, thanks to Apple. I found a guide on this site which showed me how to upload all of my contacts and calendar data to GMail via iTunes sync. I expected problems, there weren’t any. I was very happy.
The Nexus One is very fast but screenshots are difficult
This is a small gripe – particularly while I try to blog about the phone. The early screenshots of Nexus One must have been taken via the Android SDK, because there’s no “quick and easy” way to take a screenshot. You have to install the software development kit and enable USB debugging on the phone. Though it seems easy to do, I don’t fancy bothering. With iPhone, a simple two button combo creates a reassuring camera click noise – writing the image to your gallery for later. Yes, the Nexus One is fast and helps with productivity, but small things like this can get frustrating, rather quickly.
iPhone has Genius
Apple’s iPhone wins hands down in the entertainment stakes. Imagine the scenario: you arrive at a party and someone asks, “have you got any music?”. You’ve got a heap of great stuff on your iPhone but no playlists to suit the mood. With Genius, that’s ok – just find the first track and press the Genius button. Instant playlist. I’ll miss this feature a lot. On the plus side, the Nexus One has a completely meaningful filesystem, making adding mp3’s a complete breeze. No more iTunes, for some of us, is a welcome change.
Stick or twist
I love my iPhone, and I plan to keep it for now. As I write it’s playing some music and in the evenings, I’ve been keeping up on my RSS feeds and playing Fieldrunners. I’m not ready to part with it just yet, but Android and the Nexus One has my full attention as a daytime, productivity smartphone – for the time being.