Guest of honour
The great and the good of tech journalism gathered for a spot of wine, sushi and general Googleness at the Internet giant's new offices in London yesterday evening, and the guest of honour was the new ‘googlephone' - the Nexus S.
Just to remind you, the thinking behind Google launching an own-branded phone isn't for it to necessarily be an ‘iPhone killer' but for it to have at least one handset in the field that it has direct hardware control over. As well as being an exemplar of all things Android, this handset also serves as a public beta of the latest version of the operating system, as it gets the update before any others.
We got a quick bit of quality time with the Nexus S and thought we'd share our first impressions. As has been known for some time, it's made by Samsung and is effectively a modification of the Samsung Galaxy S - hence the name.
The most obvious physical change is a slightly curved screen, which is having all sorts of ergonomic hyperbole attached to it, but seems to be a pretty inconsequential tweak. Other than that the hard buttons on the bottom are presented differently, and a ‘search' button has been added to the ‘menu', ‘search', and ‘back' ones.
There was no opportunity to test out the new NFC capability, but we did have a quick browse around the phone and can confirm that transitions, opening apps and rendering web pages is very quick, as was streaming video over YouTube. But the primary reason to get a googlephone remains early access to the latest versions of Android.
That's about it for now, but rest assured we lobbied to get a review unit as soon as possible. Chatting to some Google people at the event confirmed our own feeling that the big new version of Android will be the next one - Honeycomb - which will be optimised for tablets. Of the current version, they were keen to talk up how good the voice recognition capabilities are.