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Google's Nexus One Smart Phone Improvements Are Incremental

Google just announced their new phone, the Nexus One. Google is claiming that the NexusOne is a new class of smart phone called a "superphone." Well, I'm not sure it is overly super, if super denotes a move from a smart phone with fairly limited computing power like a Treo or BlackBerry. In that case, the iPhone was the first phone that was super. Eye candy aside (and there is a lot of eye candy), the Nexus One is phone that has incremental processing power over the Motorola Droid, the other new Android phone.

First, the tech specs:

Motorola Droid Google Nexus One
Processor TI OMAP3430 Qualcomm QSD 8250
CPU Clock 600 Mhz 1 GHz
RAM 256 MB 512 MB RAM
Flash ROM 512 MB 512 MB ROM
Application Storage 256 MB 256 of 512 (unknown)
Hard Storage (microSD) Ships with 16 GB. Supports up to 32GB Ships with 4GB. Supports up to 32 GB
Screen 854x480 WVGA 800x480 WVGA
Colors 16 million, 240 DPI 16 million
Input Physical/Virtual Keyboard,
5 Way Rocker
Virtual Keyboard

The Nexus One's specs aren't that much better than those of the Motorola Droid. Most noticeable (and I don't know if this is software, hardware, or both) are the 3D graphics, which Eric Tseng from Google demonstrated with some eye catching wall papers and a photo gallery. Of course, it will only take some creative developers to show that 3D support can be used for more than eye-candy.

The other interesting hardware feature is the use of two built-in microphones for noise cancellation. Dual microphone noise cancellation has been part of higher end headsets for a few years now, but the effectiveness varies by product and environment. Essentially one mic monitors background noise while the other picks up voice, thus the phone can subtract noise from voice. That's the theory anyway, and it tends to work better in cases where there background noise is constant. However, the dual mic feature is a notable attempt at hardware improvement.

The other improvements are software based and are in Android 2.1, which Motorola said is coming to the Droid. With current Android phones, you can bring up a voice search, say what you want, and the phone will convert that to text and send the query to Google. The searches can be location specific so you can find Pizza shops nearby, for example. On the software side, Android 2.1 will support voice input into text fields. Voice input, if it works well, could be an good usability gain, but I suspect that voice input, like accessing the virtual keypad or multi-touch, depends on having the developer write support for it. It might not come pre-packaged with the applications you install.

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