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Over on O’Reilly Radar, Tim O’Reilly gives his first-blush assessment of the Google Nexus One.

There will be many posts focusing on the look, feel, and features of the Nexus One, so I’m going to focus on what Android’s latest incarnation says about the competitive landscape – what I’ve elsewhere called the war for the web. Android vs. iPhone is one important front in that “war.”

One from his plus column:

Google Goggles is still a bit rough, but really promising. I understand why it’s not pre-loaded on the phone, but think it has real promise as a must-have app, and one that plays to Google’s strengths. I believe that image recognition and speech recognition are key to future UI improvements in mobile devices, and I applaud Google’s long term commitment to these areas, even though they aren’t yet fully baked. And the awe factor when you see someone point a camera at you and have the app say “That’s Tim O’Reilly” tells you just how much more a device can do when it is backed by big data and powerful algorithms running on a cloud platform. (Google has kept face recognition out of the production version of Goggles, but I had a full version demoed to me a few months ago, and it was truly a taste of the future.) Augmented reality is coming to the iPhone as well (Layar, the Yelp Monocle, and ShopSavvy being only a few examples), but this is Google’s home turf.

And one from his minus:

I really miss access to my iTunes music collection, which is also where I listen to audiobooks from audible.com. That being said, this omission pushes me back in the direction of cloud music apps like Last.FM and Pandora, though I’m wishing that Rhapsody was available, since I’m already a subscriber via my Sonos home music system. Google has added its own built-in music app, but it has a limited selection, and what’s worse, pre-empts the controls on the headset. At least right now, they aren’t available to other music applications – pressing the pause button while in Last.FM just starts a competing stream from the Google music app. Unless Google is REALLY serious about getting into the music business, they should give up on their own app and work with third parties to fill this hole.

A Few Thoughts on the Nexus One

More:
Alt.CES: Nexus One teardown
Alt.CES: Google Nexus One an iPhone Killer?

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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