One of the things that most attracted me to Android from the start was the full integration with Google apps like Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Talk. I use Google Apps to power all the communication services for my jakeludington.com domain, which means Google’s servers keep my mail, calendar, and contacts perfectly in sync. While the iPhone and other smartphones will sync with Google apps, the experience in using Android phones is far superior because it behaves almost like you were using the apps in a desktop browser.
Native voice-to-text input works amazingly well for responding to email, storing a “note to self”, performing web searches, and most other text functions that would require a keyboard. I was uncertain about the Nexus One when I first tried it, because I’ve been hesitant to give up on a physical keyboard. The voice-to-text feature combined with text suggestion when you type makes it easy to approximate the typing speed I get from using a physical keyboard on a phone.
Google Maps in a desktop browser is certainly the measuring stick by which all online mapping is judges. The Google Maps Android application works great for driving directions or finding the nearest business, but the thing that really impresses me is the navigation feature. Turn-by-turn directions are reliable enough that I can input my destination, turn on navigation, and rely solely on the audible commands to get me to my destination, without ever needing to check the screen. This replaces the need for a TomTom or other navigation system completely. Frequent updates to the mapping application also mean that navigation always has the latest information.
While I don’t typically get excited about the camera features of a phone, because any digital camera is always better, the Nexus One does include some features that are a nice bonus. You can geo-tag photos to the location they were taken. There’s a built-in flash, which is far from perfect but can be useful. The video capture is 720×480 at 20 frames per second (or better). Those features combine to make the Nexus One a viable backup to your digital camera in a pinch. On the downside, while the camera output is 5 megapixel still images, it functions best when used for photos in daylight.
Battery life, which is something vital to a decent phone experience, is better than most other phones I’ve used. One brief exception was a poorly chosen download of a Twitter application that communicated on the network so frequently that it drained the battery at an amazing pace. After removing that app, I routinely get through about 36 hours of time without needing to recharge.
Some people might view the smaller set of applications available for Android as a negative when compared to the iPhone. Apple could purge 50% of the applications available in the iPhone store and no one (other than the application developers) would even notice. I’d still like to see Amazon add a Kindle app to the iPhone, but otherwise I haven’t seen any iPhone apps that I’m dying to have on the Nexus One.
After 90 days with the Nexus One and about 18 months using Android, I’m continuing to find it a viable alternative to the iPhone. I may use my phone differently than many people, because to me the calling feature is among the least important. Any phone I use provides more benefit as a solution for keeping me organized, helping me find what I’m looking for through search, and offering a solution to communicate through multiple methods. Android as a platform and the Nexus One specifically meets those needs nicely.