I recently got Google’s Nexus One phone to try out. The phone is serviced by T-Mobile — and I’m a T-Mobile customer – but the only way to get it is through Google. So that’s what I did. Of course, me being me, I went through the Public Relations department and got a unit I would have to send back after 30 days.
I guess I’ve fallen in love faster. But not for a long time.
Actually, I should clarify. The Nexus One is a nice little phone. But we didn’t really get along. It has an on-screen Â keyboard in its slick touch screen. And while the geek in me admires recent advances in touch screen technology that have brought us the iPhone, the Touchsmart PC that I gave away here recently, and a slew of very cool, powerful, and compact phones like the Nexus One, I’m not a fan of the on-screen keyboard.
Here’s why: I can type.
It took me less than two minutes to type the 160 or so words you’ve read here so far. I can type as fast as I my brain can write and almost as fast as a New Yorker can talk. But a touch screen is s….l….o…w. Drives me nuts. On a cell phone with a QWERTY keyboard I can whip out a text or email lickety-splitÂ — unless that QWERTY keyboard is on a touch screen. Then I’m 11 again and learning to type with one finger.
The Nexus one is a nice, fast phone. It has a lovely screen. It’s small and fits easily in every purse or pocket I have. There is nothing to hate and a lot to like. But I need an actual keyboard. And it doesn’t have one. As Liz Lemon would say, “Deal Breaker!”
What I fell in love with was not the phone, it was the Android operating system that powers the Nexus One (as well as a host of other phones including the Droid.) That OS has changed my life.
I sent the Nexus One back to the mother ship at Google last week. But in the thirty days we were together, I made a lot of changes – all for the better. How many relationships can you say that about? (Liz?)
The most liberating of those changes was that I completely gave up Microsoft Outlook. The arrival of the Nexus One happened to correspond with a devastating Windows-induced data loss. One day I turned my computer on and it no longer recognized me as a user. My password didn’t work. I had to log on as a guest and do some very geeky editing of the registry to get my stuff back. I was up to my ears in step-by-step instructions from the Microsoft help site but – since I still have to work — I needed my email. I imported all my email addresses into Gmail – just for the time being, I thought – so I wouldn’t be out of touch.
And with that act, I moved my trust from my own computer to the cloud. If all my emails came in to my Gmail account, I would no longer need to sync my email, calendar or contacts with my phone, my netbook, or anything else. Â Of course I’ve known this is true, in theory, for a long time but I was unwilling to make the leap to trusting the cloud for this essential data. As someone who has used email as my main form of communication for a very long time, I had decided long ago that I hated feature-bereft Webmail services. But Gmail’s SPAM filters are the most efficient and aggressive I’ve used and they require nothing from me. Suddenly. No more spam. (In the 30 days since I moved to the Google Cloud, I have gotten maybe one piece of the stuff.) The hot new “conversation” feature in the Outlook that’s in the beta of Office 10 that I am using is already a feature in Gmail. And if some bug causes a problem with the software running my email, some super-geek over at Google will fix it before I even notice. With one big sweeping gesture that took maybe 40 minutes, a host of daily, annoying geeky housekeeping tasks were gone. Could someone at Google do that for the pile of laundry in my family room? Please.
I never bothered to finish finding my Outlook data. I just closed the program and never opened it again.
The problem with my new affection for Android of course is that I had to send the Nexus One back. So I had to buy myself a new Android phone. (I got one with a QWERTY keyboard.) But the cool thing about Android is that, since it stores all my data online, all my contacts will be set up and ready to go on my new phone. Sure, I’ll have to download some of the cool apps I’ve been using (love the one for YouMail by the way) but my emails, contacts, and calendar will be ready and waiting. Sweet.