10 things Google should change for Nexus 2

16th Feb 2010 | 14:17

10 things Google should change for Nexus 2

Could Google create a better phone? Yes, and here's how

How Google can fix the Nexus

In the wake of our recent Nexus One review, it became obvious that comparisons to other models, including one unmentionable godphone, are raising some ire.

The common view: review the phone for its actual features, not what it lacks! And yet, using the Nexus One does inspire these comparisons – like driving an automobile that is almost astounding and therefore reminds you of what the vehicle lacks.

Could Google somehow create a better phone in the Nexus 2? Yes, and here's how.

1. Fix the accelerometer

We complained about how the Nexus One would not recognise a tilt as quickly as other phones that have an accelerometer. We won't mention the godphone, but even the BlackBerry Storm 2 and the Palm Pre respond faster.

Now, we'll need to explain how the tilt works. Modern smartphones use a micro-electromechanical system that recognises orientation. However, these tiny springs (only about 3 microns in size) which sense movement work directly with software routines.

It's possible the Nexus One has the hardware chops and Android is to blame, since the HTC hero suffers a similar ailment (at least the model we tested). The Nextus (ahem) should recognise tilt faster – rotating the device should cause the keyboard to rotate instantly.

BlackBerry storm 2

BETTER TILT:The BlackBerry Storm 2 also responds faster to tilt, although still not quite as fast as the unmentionable phone

2. Keyboard sensitivity

OK, the tilt function is the most grievous problem. However, reports of the soft keyboard on the Nexus One have indicated it might have problems as well.

As we mentioned in our review, we did not experience any outright failures. However, the successor needs to address key sensitivity – you do need to sometimes press once or twice to register a key press, and that is just not going to work for our email happy society unless Google re-imagines the Nexus One with a flip-open keyboard. This is one major advantage the Motorola Milestone has over the Nexus.

3. Address some Android deficiencies

We're big fans of the Android OS, especially its portability to other hardware platforms including a recent Acer Aspire netbook that uses Android. There's no question that Android has a loyal following, plenty of apps, and a bright future.

However, there are some headscratchers with this OS, namely that it tends to be overly technical for simple tasks, such as deleting an email. Google, put common functions on the screen where they are obvious, such as Google Maps nav options, email functions for forwarding and deleting (for messages in a list so you do not need to open each one to find these buttons), and a few key camera settings.

Interestingly, the Nexus One could learn some lessons from Nokia, who tends to favour more obvious on-screen functions in the Symbian rather than sub-menus.

Nokia n97

EASIER OPTIONS:Nokia phones such as the N97 tend to be less technical with on-screen options and put them right on the screen rather than buried in a menu

4. Add a screen coating

Complaining about screen grime seems like a bit, we know. After all, most smartphones do not use a protective coating like the unmentionable device, and you can always use a screen protector.

The problem is that the Nexus One screen seems to attract grease and grime, and if the successor used a protective coating, we would not need to use a screen protector. It's a minor complaint, but one that still fits our vehicle comparison where you just can't help but notice the grime.

5. Storage for app downloads

One perplexing problem with the Nexus One is that you can only download apps to a storage allocation of about 190MB. That fills up quickly with games and business utilities, not to mention media apps.

We asked Google about this one and it would not go on record to explain why this is the allotment or how it will fix the problem, but the Nexus One supports flash cards up to 32GB, so we think the successor will address this problem and free up more space for downloads.

Improve haptics, add a video store and more

6. Haptics is for newbies

There is a lot of debate about haptics technology, the slight buzzing sensation you feel when you press one of the four hardware buttons on the Nexus One.

Some interface experts say it's a killer feature because it means you don't have to look at the device. On the Nexus One, these buttons are imprecise at best, and unusable at worst (especially if you really do try to press them without looking).

Samsung instinct

BETTER HAPTICS:Haptics on phones such as the Samsung Instinct HD work much better than they do on the Nexus One, which tends to miss key presses

We're not big fans of the Samsung Instinct HD, which relies too much on haptics. In general, haptics only work if they are implemented extremely well; otherwise, the buzzing is more of a distraction than an aid and mar the overall phone experience.

7. Carrier partnerships

Open handsets are the future – similar to how a PC doesn't need to be locked into one particular operating system (that's a joke). Actually, we know how subsidised phones do help with initial costs, especially in the UK where you are more likely to find a free smartphone on offer than in the US. And yet, the reality in the US (for now) is that the Nexus One really only works with T-Mobile.

The successor needs to support CDMA and more carriers, but most importantly should be available in multiple versions. The process should work like this: you go to a Google store, select the carrier you want to use, buy the phone that matches that carrier platform, and then arrange a contract on your own terms, at your own price and length.

8. Make a real Android video store

Before Google makes a new Android phone, the company needs to address one glaring issue – the complete lack of a video store. Surprising, because the the wonderful 800x480 resolution, WVGA, AMOLED screen is a stunner – bright, clear, and massive compared to many other smartphones.

Movies would look fantastic, and you can easily load them with your PC. However, Google needs a video store where you can rent and buy Hollywood movies right from the device.

9. Really add 802.11a this time

When we reviewed the Nexus One, we asked about an unusual specification listed at google.com/phone – that the phone supports 802.11a. This is unlikely, we thought, because A is an unusual spec that uses a different channel from B/G.

We wondered about this because A is not that common anymore. (We have noticed the site no longer lists A capability.) And yet, perhaps there is a way to get A to work on a smartphone – Atheros or Broadcom, work your magic!

The more consistent Wi-Fi speeds could mean reliable transmissions and work with dual-band routers. If Google can pack 802.11n (which is still listed as a feature for the Nexus One but is not) into a successor, with 100MBps speeds, we'd be even happier.

10. Fix the USB problem

One last minor issue – the Nexus One forces you to mount the device as a USB drive each time you connect it to your computer. This is just an extra step and no other phone we have tested recently has this limitation.

Palm pre

BETTER USB:When you connect the Palm Pre, you are prompted to connect over USB, charge the device, or just add media files

The successor should work like the Palm Pre or the unmentionable phone: just mount automatically. There is no reason other phones mount automatically and the Nexus requires the mount.


Liked this? Then check out Hands on: HTC Desire review

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