Nexus One Google Phone Logs On

Google's Nexus One smartphone released in bid to dominate mobile Web.

ByABC News
January 5, 2010, 12:16 PM

Jan. 5, 2010 — -- Google, one of the Internet's great success stories, today unveiled its Nexus One smart phone -- a product the company hopes will not only challenge Apple's wildly successful iPhone but also keep Google dominant as the Internet spreads from conventional computers to mobile devices.

The sleek little phone -- with a 3.7-inch touch screen, a tiny trackball and a minimum of buttons -- was introduced today at Google's California headquarters. It will sell for $179 with a two-year contract from T-Mobile, or, in a departure from other smart phones, you can buy it "unlocked" for $529. That means you can use it on any cellular network with which it is compatible, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Britain's Vodaphone.

As with the iPhone and other competitors, its ability to make telephone calls is almost beside the point. Google says the Nexus One is a "multipurpose mobile computing device," capable of Internet access, e-mail, digital images, mapping and just about anything else clever programmers can think up.

Google's Erick Tseng today called the Nexus One a "superphone," suggesting it will go beyond what existing handheld devices have been able to do.

It has a GPS locator that allows users to pinpoint their precise locations on Google Maps. It has a 5-megapixel camera, capable of still pictures or video, with flash built in.

If you need to type something a virtual keyboard appears on the screen, but Google says typing is almost unnecessary. The company has been hard at work on Google Voice, a system that it says will understand spoken commands better than others on the market. Tell the phone, "Navigate to pizza," and it will give you a readout, with step-by-step directions, to the closest places that sell it.

The Nexus One runs on version 2.1 of Google's Android software. Android is "open-source," meaning that anyone with programming smarts can design applications for it. An iPhone app, by contrast, must be approved before it can be sold online in Apple's App Store.

Android has been used in other phones, such as Motorola's Droid, but Google says the Nexus One is more versatile.

It may be a cell phone, by the way, but it also receives Wi-Fi signals if you are within range of one.