By Harry McCracken | Monday, December 6, 2010 at 9:21 am
It’s a busy day for long-rumored Google developments turning into official announcements: The company has announced the Nexus S, the first Android phone to run Android 2.3 “Gingerbread.” The phone is made by Samsung and has an interesting-sounding curved 4″ AMOLED display, a 1-GHz Hummingbird CPU, 512MB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and two cameras; It’ll be sold unlocked starting on December 16th, and is intended to run on T-Mobile in the US.
Gingerbread doesn’t sound like a massive update, but Google says it’s the fastest version of Android to date. It features tweaks to the on-screen keyboard, status updates, text selection, and cut-and-paste. And as Eric Schmidt recently teased, it supports Near-Field Communications, an emerging technology that will enable activities like easily using your phone to make payments at retail stores.
Google says that the S offers a “pure Google” experience, with the latest edition of Android and a software experience it controls completely. It’s the company’s first pass at a truly Google-centric phone since the Nexus One. But Google isn’t jumping back into the game of selling phones directly: The S will be available at Best Buy.
If the Nexus S is “pure Google,” it’s logical to infer that other Android phones must feature “adulterated Google.” That seems about right. Wireless carriers and handset manufacturers still put old versions of Android on new devices (most of Samsung’s Galaxy S models are stuck on Android 2.1). They bump Google search for competitors. In general, they just don’t serve Google’s OS very well. Dare I say that it’s become fragmented?
If I were a phone manufacturer or wireless carrier, I’m not sure how I’d feel about Google competing with my Android handsets with another model that’s clearly meant to be the flagship of the whole Android world, just as the Nexus One (briefly) was. As a consumer, I’m glad it’s doing it–but I’d be happier still if Google and its partners figured out a way to ensure that every Android phone could run the newest, least mucked-up version of the OS.
I hope to get my hands on a Nexus S soon; stay tuned for a review.