Tech reviewers are praising the Nexus One and tech reviewers are bashing the Nexus One. Predictable, of course, but I'd like to bring a different perspective to the rollout of Google's headlining smart phone.
Are you a sophisticated tech reviewer? I'm sure not. In point of fact, buying the Nexus One yesterday represented my first-ever purchase of a cell phone. I can't compare the Nexus One to anything else, and I can't talk to you about Snapdragons and Sim Cards. It's all new to me, and anyhow, it's always been my habit to think of how people use technology rather than thinking very hard about how technology is created. If, like me, you are a late adopter of cell phone technology and are just now considering how a smart phone might benefit you and your business, I'm going to show you what I've learned to do in a single day with this remarkable device.
I Can Use The Web
This was the big deal for me as a website designer. Connecting to the web from the Nexus One is absolutely simple. We purchased the phone unlocked (meaning we didn't buy it with the locked T-Mobile contract). However, we discovered that T-Mobile coverage is very strong in our corner of the world and so purchased an unlocked, unlimited T-Mobile service plan that will actually be less expensive than the locked plan over time. I can visit any site I want on the web and am already seeing how badly Mobile design standards are going to be needed as the whole world goes Mobile. I can send emails, visit blogs and forums and do all the stuff I normally do on my laptop. It took me a couple of hours to figure out how to navigate around easily, but I've got it down now and I'm really impressed! If being on the web is important to your business, I think the Nexus One will make it easy for you to stay connected to your business affairs no matter where you are.
I Can Use Google Maps
This was the big deal for me as a Local SEO. The Nexus One comes with a connection to Google Maps built right into the main set of icons. Now, I confess, I'm having a little harder time getting acquainted with using Maps as I'm so used to doing on my laptop. The navigation I'm familiar with doesn't seem to be there, and only some locations can be viewed in StreetView. I need more time to play with this, but Local and Mobile are quickly becoming one and I'm sure I will get the hang of the whole Maps feature with a little more practice. The Nexus One also tracks my location as I'm driving about - really interesting. So far, it knew where I was about 70% of the time. Then, the little blue marker indicating my location seemed to get confused and was placing me and my car a street away from where I actually was. This feature definitely deserves further exploration, as does the phone's ability to give me directions.
I Can Make Calls
It may seem obvious that a smart phone makes phone calls, but the Nexus One has so many capabilities, this function almost seems like a sideshow. The quality of the calls I have made has seemed remarkably clear to me, both on the sending and receiving ends. The phone has a device which mutes background noise and it appears to work very well. I'm used to cell phone calls that have tons of static and noise. This phone, with T-Mobile coverage, sounds marvelous in my area. I also absolutely love the fact that I can click a phone number on a website, in an ad or email and the phone automatically starts calling the designated party. Phenomenal! It was very easy to begin setting up a list of folks I frequently call and, so far, I'm favorably impressed with this aspect of the Nexus One.
I Can Type
The keyboard is very small, even for my dainty fingers. Turning the phone sideways helps a bit. One has to switch back and forth between keyboards with capital letters, lower case letters and numbers and symbols. After just one day, I'm already starting to feel comfortable with this, but I am typing very, very slowly after a day of use and this feels odd to me - a really fast typist. However, there is a feature of the keyboard that I discovered this morning that ameliorates some of the awkwardness. While you type, a little bar is constantly suggesting to you complete common words that you can click on rather than having to type whole words out, and this is pretty helpful. I also love that the keyboard has a special key for the phrase '.com'. Very useful.
I Can Talk To The Phone!
For me, this is the feature that makes the Nexus One like something from the fabled 'space age' that has been predicted by humans for several generations. There is a little microphone icon that you can press and begin speaking into the phone and the words appear on the screen. Imagine that! However, there is a pretty serious problem with accuracy, and I did an experiment today, using the Voice function to dictate a blog post.
If you click my example, you will immediately see that I ended up with some pretty foolish gibberish. In a 102 word paragraph, the Nexus One misunderstood 12 words. When you add to this the fact that it had no idea how to punctuate what I was saying and was using numbers like '1' instead of writing out the word 'one', you end up with text that is far from publication-ready. The meaning of what I was trying to say got totally lost, and while I suppose this might be okay in the world of Text Messaging, this is one spaceship that won't fly when it comes to important business communications.
Nevertheless, it's an amazing emergent technology, and I had a blast speaking in the names of local places and businesses, famous people and other phrases and then watching with amazed eyes as the phone brought up accurate results time and again. This technology is going somewhere and it's thrilling to see the beginnings of it.
I Can Take Pictures
The Nexus One gets high marks from me for the ease of use of the camera which takes very clear pictures. Here's an example of an un-touched, un-photoshopped image I took very quickly, on a dark grey afternoon while I was out grocery shopping today:
It took me about 2 minutes to figure out how to sort and and delete images in the gallery feature and how to email them to my computer. Super simple and fun! If your business runs a blog and you've got a roving reporter, this phone is going to make him a powerhouse when it comes to collecting on-the-spot images to enliven your content.
What Else Can I Do?I can listen to music, and it sounds okay for coming out of such a tiny device, but to be honest, all I've done so far is delete all of the pre-set music out of the phone because it sounded like guys with adenoid trouble torturing washing machines. Google - what was with that music? I'll find something lovelier to my ears soon. I can see the time, bookmark my favorite places, read news, get weather, and sign into a marketplace where I can download cool apps for the phone. I watched some YouTube videos and they looked astonishingly good. Wow!
I know I can also text message folks, but I haven't even looked into it yet. Frankly, I have the distinct feeling that my first 24 hours with the Nexus One has just barely touched the tip of the technology iceberg of features present in this pint-sized gadget. Is the Nexus One the right phone for you? Budget, coverage and your location are going to determine the answer to that, and I highly recommend reading Mike Blumenthal's fantastic guide to choosing a smart phone.
Most importantly, I'm suggesting that you consider the common scenarios of your daily personal and business life. For me, running my business, getting a smart phone is a smart thing to do. Would your business benefit if you were able to browse the web, make calls, send emails and text messages, take photos, find important places locally and turn spoken words into text, no matter where you are? And, don't forget to ask yourself whether it will become important to your business in the next 5 years that your business' website renders well on mobile devices. How about mobile-based advertising? That's ramping up, too. What do you need to be doing to make sure your business is keeping apace with how people live and do business as we enter the second decade of the 21st century? I do believe that Google's Nexus One is hinting at the answer.
Miriam Ellis is the co-owner of Solas Web Design and CopyLocal, providing SEO-based website design, Local SEO and professional copywriting for small-to-medium North American businesses. She is the Local SEO Associate in the Q&A Forum at SEOmoz, a moderator at Cre8asite Forums and an annual participant in David Mihm's Local Search Ranking Factors report. When she and her husband are not working on the web, they're farming organically and working on increased sustainability or roaming about in nature having the time of their lives.
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