Home Live Blog: Google’s Android Press Gathering

Live Blog: Google’s Android Press Gathering

Google is holding a press event to showcase the new Nexus One and possibly some other mobile innovations today. We already know quite a few details about the phone itself, but hopefully Google will also have a few surprises up its sleeve. The press conference should get under way at 10 a.m. PST and we will live blog the event here.

We will post updates as they happen. Keep reloading this page to see the latest news.

10:00 a.m. As usual, the event is running a bit late.

10:06 a.m. Getting started. VP of Product Development takes the stage to talk about the Open Handset Alliance.

“We will unveil the next generation of the evolution of Android today.”

Thirteen new members will join the OHC – including: NEC, China Telecom and Freescale.

Recapping the history of Android hardware (G1, myTouch, Droid)

10:10 a.m. “A year ago we had 1 device, now we have 20 devices on 59 carriers.”

Google wants to prevent fragmentation – talking about compatibility test suite.

“Android today is about getting more users onto the mobile web.” Android users search the web over 30-times more on Android than on feature phones.

From the beginning, Android was always about being developer friendly.

Talking about being able to multi-task (a subtle swipe at the iPhone?)

The Next Step in the Android Evolution

10:15 a.m. “We are only in the early stages of the evolution of Android.”

Volume and variety of Android devices has exceeded Google’s expectations. “But we want to do more.”

Wants to work closer with hardware partners to showcase the software.

Announcing the Nexus One

“Where Web Meets Phone”

10:18 a.m. Google calls this a new category of phones: “super-phones”

On stage now: Peter Chou, CEO of HTC.

Talking up the Nexus One: “The Nexus One is one of the best designs from HTC.” Outstanding display, fast processor.

“It pushes the limits of what is possible on a mobile phone today.”

Chou leaves the stage after posing with the phone…

10:22 a.m. In depth look at Nexus One

Erik Tseng takes the stage to demo the phone.

Hardware: 3.7 inch AMOLED display – WVGA. “Deep contrast and brilliant colours.”

1 GHz processor – fast processor = less slowdowns.

Trackball works as notifications tool. Will pulse when you get new messages.

130 grams – 11.5 mm thick

Sensors: light sensor, proximity sensor.

5 megapixel camera

New for Android: active noise cancellation – using two microphones.

10:29 a.m. Google will offer custom engraving (just like the iPhone…)

“With this hardware, we think we have half of the story. It’s the combination of hardware and software that makes this such a great phone.”

No surprise: Nexus One will come with Android 2.1

10:31 a.m. New features in 2.1: Customization

More homescreen panels – more widgets

Example: weather widget: knows where you are from GPS

Google expects to see more widgets from 3rd-party developers

Showing live wallpapers.

10:35 a.m.3D capabilities of the Nexus One and Android 2.1

App launcher: new twist – 3D scroll-wheel – icons sit on a 3D wheel instead of a flat page

New photo gallery – written with CoolIris

Everything scrolls smoothly – quite impressive. Looks just like CoolIris on the desktop.

Features background sync with Picasa Web Albums

10:39 a.m. Voice Commands

In 2.0: Voice queries (“directions to nearest Ikea”)

In 2.1: Every text field is now voice-enabled.

Voice recognition learns every time you speak a query.

10:42 a.m. Sneak peek at Google Earth for Android

Also voice-enabled.

Clearly making good use of the fast processor. Everything scrolls very smoothly.

Buying the Phone: Google Hosted Web Store

10:45 a.m. How to buy the phone?

Google will sell the phone in its own web store.

Keeping it simple: buy phone without service ($529) – or with service from partners (T-Mobile $179).

For now, T-Mobile only. But: “Expect to add more carriers and hardware in the future.”

Verizon Wireless and Vodofone will join the program.

Web Store

10:49 a.m. Demoing the Store

Purchasing all done in the store – no need to go to the physical store.

10:54 a.m. Recap

First phone of a series of phone – more operators, devices and countries coming in the future.

Showing demo video right now.


11:00 a.m.Question: Why only such a small amount of space for app storage?

Answer: Soon, you will be able to store apps on SD cards

Question: Will it ship today?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Is this an iPhone killer?

Answer: Choice is a good thing.

Question: Whose inventory will the phone come from? What will you do to make the App Store more well-known?

Answer: Unlocked phone comes from Google. Regarding the Android Market: Marketing for Nexus One and new Web Store will be essentially online. Focused on making the store better.

Question: Why was it necessary for Google to design the phone? Why not just have an HTC phone that runs Android?

Answer: Google didn’t design the phone – HTC did. Google is just the retailer and worked mostly on the software.

Question: What would convinces somebody to buy a $530 phone?

Answer: That’s choice at work. “This is the early stages of a longer journey.”

Question: Google isn’t known for being a retailer.

Answer: “We shouldn’t focus on retailing.” Google wants to offer a complete solution and give consumers choice. Retail part is very important but just another channel – not a channel that will replace other channels.

Question: What’s the revenue opportunity for Google?

Answer: These super-phones are great for accessing the Internet and that’s where our business is. Hardware sales are not the big deal – just wants to get more people on the mobile web. “If you want the best possible Google experience you come to the store and get the device.”

Question: Will it support tethering?

Answer: In future versions. Not a strategic issue but just something Google needs to implement.

Question: Is the physical keyboard dead? Will Google start to sell more products online?

Answer (from HTC): We offer lots of different phones and people can choose what best fits for them. This design is focused on the form-factor and screen. HTC offers other devices for “keyboard-lovers”. From Google: The new voice input works very well and Google will soon offer other devices as well.

Question: Will other counties support multi-touch on the Nexus One?

Answer: It’s a software thing. “We’ll consider it.”

Question: When will Google Voice launch publicly? What about the other phones that are coming soon? Will something awesomer come next month?

Answer: Other manufacturers will add more devices. “If you need a great phone today – the Nexus is a great phone.” (Nothing about Google Voice in the answer.)

Question: Google wants to do revolutionary stuff? What’s revolutionary about this phone? Why does Google get behind this phone if it’s pretty average? Why not revolutionize the pricing structure with an ad-supported phone?

Answer: This is a baby step. Let’s get the store going and then we can see what comes up in the future.

Question: Will people be able to check out the phone in retail store?

Answer: We want this to remain pure and simple. Marketing this online-only and selling online-only.

Question: What’s the difference between a super-phone and a regular smartphone?

Answer: The big differentiator is the openness of the app store. This is as powerful as your laptop was a year ago.

Question: Question for Motorola: Will the Nexus One cannibalize sales of the Droid?

Answer: We try to deliver the best products we can. Will upgrade software on the Droid.

Question: Why does Google feel the need to change the way phones are bought? What’s broken about the current system?

Answer: We are trying to optimize efficiencies. Just like web store revolutionized the way you buy a camera, Google wants to do the same thing for phones. After there are enough phones out there, you can experience it through using somebody else’s. Marketing just increases prices.

Sidenote about partners: We would love to sell for Verizon and Vodafone right now – just have to integrate the IT.

Question: What can users expect in terms of software upgrades? Users never really know what phone will get the upgrade.

Answer: HTC wants to upgrade all of its phones (nothing specific). Google argues that some phones simply don’t have the hardware capabilities for the upgrade. The intention is to make sure everybody gets some kind of future-proof hardware that can get upgrades for a certain amount of time. From Motorola: Intention to upgrade the device to the best software that the hardware can run. Not every device supports the 3D capabilities of Android 2.1, for example. Backward compatibility slows down innovation.

Question: Will Verizon get unlocked phones?

Answer: Unlocked phones are a problem with CDMA phones. Will only be sold with Verizon plan.

Question: Will you port Google Voice to the iPhone or will you suppress this to give Android an advantage?

Answer: Google Voice team isn’t opposed to having its app run on other platforms.

Question: Didn’t Google say it won’t do a phone?

Answer: We don’t do hardware.

11:43 a.m.: And that wraps up today’s live blog. Thanks for reading!

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