I was recently at a swanky private event at the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, and I was the most popular guy at the party. It wasn't my fashionable wardrobe (somewhere, mysteriously, my wife just broke into peals of laughter and she doesn't know why), and it wasn't my charming wit. Everyone there wanted to be the next person to play with my new Nexus One from Google... aka the "Googlephone".
[image1]iPhones, the now-ubiquitous accessories of Bay Area culture, stayed shamefully hidden away in pockets and handbags. After all, simply everyone has one of those. I was called on repeatedly to make the phone do tricks and show off features I had barely any time to learn. Indeed, I had only figured out about half of what the phone was capable of at that point.
I'm just going to come right out and sum up this article so the busy folks out there can get on with their lives: The Nexus One is the best of the Android phones, and it is also better in every way than the iPhone except for one: the App Store. It's sleeker and lighter, has a much better, higher-resolution screen, and can do everything the iPhone can do, and more. You know, like multitask, allowing it to several things the iPhone can't do at the same time.
I can already sense the Apple fanboy hatemail starting to flow in, so let me get started for you. I am a huge, fat biased jerk that probably thinks about Google during sex. Gay sex. With animals. Gay animals. [Get your own fantas.... never mind. ~Ed. Nick]
Indeed, I am admittedly a fan of Google and several Google products. One of the reasons the Nexus One is so appealing to me is how completely and seamlessly it integrates into MyGoogleLife. I use Gmail exclusively, Google Maps gets me where I need to go, and my life would be a completely useless trainwreck without my Google Calendar.
All of Google's products, from Google Voice to Picasa, feel like a natural extension of the phone, rather than an external app. For the first time I actually consider traveling without my laptop. However, if your life revolves around MobileMe, iTunes, and iPhoto instead, the iPhone may still be the best option for you.
[image2]And then there's the voice recognition which is built into nearly every phone feature. From composing an email to sending a text, you can simply dictate the corresponding command instead of typing on the virtual keyboard. It works amazingly well because the phone itself doesn't try to decipher your words. The Nexus One (or any Android phone) just sends the sound file to Google where giant supercomputers vote on what it is you just said. It works the other way around as well by transcribing my voicemails so I can just read them instead of calling in.
Complaints? I'd hardly be doing my job as a grouchy critic if I didn't have some. As of this writing, you cannot initiate voice dialing with your Bluetooth headset; you actually have to poke at the phone's screen, which is illegal in this state. We're also waiting for Flash support. But at least they've promised to add these things, whereas Apple has explicitly rejected Flash.
Then there's that whole App Store thing. With several hundred thousand iPhone apps, the Android “market” just doesn't compare... yet. Especially when it comes to games, which come in a very paltry selection of mediocre titles. However, there's a reason Google gave out hundreds of Nexus Ones to game developers for free at the recent Game Developers Conference. However, until this phone's App Store catches up, I'll just have to be jealous of the iPhone's selection of games and specialty apps.
So, as a gamer I was a bit disappointed until I realized that a nearly unregulated (if smaller) app market meant I could add features that you can only get by jailbreaking your iPhone. Three words: Fully. Supported. Emulators.
Suddenly I went from disappointment to elation when I realized that I potentially could have every single SNES, Genesis, and GBA game ever made at my fingertips. (I'm not going to lecture you on the legal use of emulators, but you can read how to be legit here, and used cartridges are only a few bucks on eBay.)
There is no question that Apple completely revolutionized the cellphone. However, they are falling prey to their own over-controlling ways: proprietary connectors, proprietary service, and proprietary apps. Sure, Google didn't invent a lot of the iPhone's great features, but they took them, improved them, and then opened them up to everybody. And in the process, they made a better phone.