According to TechCrunch the official “Google Phone” is currently being tested and expected to launch as soon as January 2010. This new phone will be an actual “Google branded” device (even though it’s made by HTC) in which every aspect of the OS will be designed by Google, to create a more solid user experience, unlike their other Android phones which have some input from the manufacturers.
Some of its highlighted features
- Will be sold as an unlocked GSM phone and distributed directly by Google
- Android 2.1 (unreleased at this point)
- Uses Snapdragon chip which is “really, really fast”
- High resolution OLED screen
- Thinner than iPhone (battery life anyone?)
- Two mics, one on the back to reduce background noise
- “Weirdly” large camera
- Touchscreen keyboard
- Voice to text for dictation
Honestly, I don’t see how an official “Google Phone” can be that much different than all the other devices that are currently running the Android OS. Supposedly it’s a big deal that they designed the whole software behind the phone to every last detail, without being limited or influenced by the manufacturer in terms of features and UI like with their other phones, similarly to what Apple does with the iPhone and their other products. But there’s one big flaw with that concept: it’s still one more Android device, different from all the others available now, with slightly different software limitations and capabilities.
Why is that a problem?
One of the things, in my opinion, that truly made the iPhone a big deal was the App Store and the fact that apps run pretty much the same way on each device running the iPhone OS is a big part of that experience. The fact that there’s only one device made by one manufacturer (with slight changes on each generation, of course) with the same native OS means developers don’t have to fix bugs that are particular to one device, they don’t have to modify their apps to work on different handsets and they don’t have to choose to invest their sometimes scarce resources on the device that’s more popular. A “Google Phone” just makes the Android app market ever so slightly more fragmented, makes the developers job a bit more complex with one more device to support (or possibly not support) and it’s one step further from the seamless experience offered by Apple and the iPhone.
I don’t think this will be a bad device, far from it. I just don’t think there’s anything truly remarkable that sets it apart from all the other devices running Android. Actually I think the only true advantage of the “Google Phone” is the fact that it will be carrier-free and unlocked from the start. Am I the only one?
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that the “Google phone” has an official name of “Nexus One”.