Google Nexus One - Center of Attention


Upgrading the Android

Besides its status as the first phone under the Google brand, what makes the Nexus One so special amongst us tech geeks? The simple answer lies within - the Android OS. Throughout the last year, we've seen a multitude of updates across the Android platform, dating from its very first iteration, to the Cupcake (1.5), Donut (1.6), Eclair (2.0/2.1) and the upcoming Froyo (Frozen Yogurt).

On the Nexus One, we have Android 2.1 running the show. While it might seem to be mostly a cosmetic makeover, it's more than that. Previous upgrades from the Android 1.6 OS includes features such as Text-to-Speech and a revamped Google Android Market. Needless to say, this will be retained in Android 2.1.

Not much has changed for the Android Market, sporting the same layout as seen on Android 1.6. Preview thumbnails are available for you to look through the selected app before downloading.

Within Android 2.1, the aesthetic changes are quite obvious. The basic layout is still the same, but loaded with refreshed icons and menu transitions across the pages. Likewise, pages are also increased from the original three, to five pages for widgets and apps loading.

A new Android and a new standby screen. Swipe towards the right, and you'll unlock it. Swipe left, and the phone will be put to Silent mode.

On the main interface, you'll now have five pages for you to load your apps and widgets onto.

Some of you might have heard the big news for Google Maps - free turn-by-turn navigation on its Android 2.0 and beyond devices. First seen on the Motorola DROID (or known as Milestone to us here), the Nexus One will also be equipped with a similar navigation dashboard interface, dubbed as Car Home on the menu. Before you do get excited about all the freebies that'll come with the Nexus One, take note that the turn-by-turn navigation isn't available outside of the United States. That said, if the Nexus One is available for purchase, there's also a slight chance that the service will also makes its way to our shores.

New icons and programs are loaded within the Menu, including the Car Home...

...which presents a dashboard style interface for car navigation. For now, there's still no word of turn-by-turn navigation outside of the US for the Nexus One.

New widgets and home screen features will be seen on the Nexus One. Facebook, being one of the more popular social networking sites
, will be bundled within the Nexus One. More importantly, Facebook contact integration is also included within, thus building your contact base on the phone to include your social network. But in retrospect, there's still more areas for the the Nexus One to tap into, especially in the social networking realm. All that, can be easily replaced by the variety of free apps found on the Android Market.

From the older, and practical widgets such as Power Control that lets you instantly switch on or off power draining features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Synchronization and Display Brightness... new ones such as Facebook that lets you read and post updates straight from the home screen.

Besides the usual Google account, you can also add Facebook and Microsoft Exchange Activesync to the list of items to sychronize your data with.

And if you're easily dazzled by all that jazz, the Nexus One will feature Live Wallpapers, which are essentially animated wallpapers that reacts to touches on the home screen. As of now, Google has released the SDK for Android 2.1, one of which is the API for the Live Wallpaper feature. Safe to say, with the immediacy of apps publishing on the Android Market and the strong Android developer base, we could be looking at more Live Wallpapers in the near future.

One of the exclusive features on Android 2.1 is Live Wallpapers, which animates and reacts to touches on the home screen.

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