Phil Nickinson

Ahhhhhh, fall. The temperatures finally are starting to drop. Football is in full swing. And the Android crazies are out in force.

It's kind of a weird time for product cycles, right? Most of the really big phones for the year are on the shelves, but we've still got the likes of the Galaxy Note 2 and the the Droid RAZR HD lurking for the U.S. markets. We'll still see a smattering of single-day events, but no huge shows like CES or MWC until we reach the new year. 

And that's were, I believe, the silly season comes from. Folks want to stay excited. And editors want to keep you excited. That's how we end up with rumors of 17 different Nexus devices. Or $99 Nexus tablets. Or, ZOMG, there might be a new Nexus out in the fourth quarter.

Sense the trend there?

Enough with the 'flagships' already

I've never really liked the term "flagship device." It's not that it's not accurate in some cases. Samsung has the Galaxy S3. I suppose I'd call the HTC One X a "flagship," but for whatever reason it just doesn't seem to carry the same weight as the GS3 does. (That's something every manufacturer not named Samsung has had to contend with.)

Maybe what bugs me is that the refresh cycle is just too fast, and the "flagship" name is just too convenient and becomes a crutch for headlines. That's inside baseball for someone who's been writing headlines for the better part of 15 years, though. Maybe I should just get over it.

On the other hand, I'm really curious to see where this mythical HTC One X+ ends up, and what the nerd reaction is to it. I've made no secret of my love for the One X, and the prospect of a version that's just a little more powerful indeed stirs my loins a little bit. But for those who just bought a One X, seeing folks who waited to purchase get a power-up is going to be a tough pill to swallow.

Look who just discovered Google Maps imagery updates

It's been funny to watch the Apple and Android blogs alike suddenly discover that Google announces new imagery updates every month or so. It doesn't do so on any sort of tight schedule, but folks seemed to notice the Sept. 28 update, which of course came the same day (if not at damned near the same time) as Apple CEO Tim Cook's open letter, admitting that Apple's Maps kinda suck.

These announcements from Google hardly are new, though. There's one from Sept. 7. And July 27. And June 11. And May 29. And May 16. And April 25. And April 20. Should we continue?

The point is, Google's been announcing imagery updates for months on the Google Maps Lat-Long Blog. And it's been really cool to see all the smaller towns and municipalities get a little bit of Google love, and it shows the depth of the entire Google Maps/Earth mapping system.

It's just a shame nobody noticed the updates had been publicized until now.

The 'next Nexus'

We talked a bit about this on last week's podcast. For my money, Google either does one, or it doesn't. I don't think it's going to do five. 

If we do see a new Nexus this year, it'll be "later this year." Or "in the fourth quarter." Or any other timeline we're starting to see folks tease as if it's news that October begins the final three months of the year. Every Nexus has been introduced in the waning months of the year, save for the original Nexus One, sort of. Let's recap:

  • Galaxy Nexus: Announced Oct. 18, 2011, in Hong Kong. It originally was to be announced at the CTIA event  in San Diego a week and a half earlier but was postponed, the death of Steve Jobs cited as the reason. It took a little while for it to officially become available in the U.S., thanks to an exclusivity with Verizon that I bet Google wish it could take back. Later in 2012, Google made the GSM version available directly.
  • Nexus S: Announced Dec. 10, 2010. Available a week later. That's how it's done.
  • Nexus One: Announced Jan. 5, 2009. That's the latest (or earliest, I guess) for a Nexus phone to have been announced. But Google was dogfooding it for most of December, if not sooner, effectively doing a silent announcement.

So, yeah. You don't have to be much of a Kreskin to predict that we'll hear of a new Nexus soon, if indeed we're getting on this year.

One more quick thought: The rumors of an "LG Optimus Nexus" came awfully quick after the announcement of the Optimus G, didn't they? That just seems way too convenient. On the other hand, I've had quality time with the Optimus G, and LG phones for some time. The company's certainly capable of putting out a quality Nexus device, should Google choose it.

So what am I looking forward to?

That's a bit of negativity, even for me. Because I really am more excited than ever. We've got great phones from HTC and Samsung already on the shelves. More's coming from Motorola and Intel. The LG Optimus G is going to be worth a look, and it'll be interesting to see how well it does.

Applications continue to get better.

So, yeah. I'm excited. We'll be in San Diego next week for the CTIA "MobileCON" event, where we should see some more new stuff. And I can't wait.


Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: The silly season returns


All I want word on is the DROID Incredible X. I've been wanting an HTC phone for a while but the DROID Incredible 4G LTE was a joke.

I'm with you there. Bring on the DIX and no I don't think there is anything ho hum about the prospect of an HTC quad core, 1080p phone on Verizon.

The whole Droid Incredible series has been a joke. The phones have been plagued with reception issues, overheating batteries and bad power buttons.

I dont care if there's one nexus or two billion, or who makes it so long as it isnt Motorola. After canceling the ICS update for the Atrix/Photon, I dont know I can ever support them in any way with my wallet again. Really hope I can get the next Nexus when my contract is up in March, I've more than learned my lesson on Android updates.

Well remember, the Atrix / Photon are both company and carrier controlled phones when it comes to updates. If it's a nexus, I highy doubt google would allow ANY company who makes their flagship phone to cancel updates. Google themselves has the call on that one.

This right here. I have a VZW GNex and I was thrilled when I got it...until I actually read up on it. What a joke.

VZW screwed Google so badly on that Nexus that I doubt Google will ever darken their door again.

What we need in a Nexus is LTE radios that can handle EVERY LTE network as well as the GSM world sold OFF Carrier. CDMA must die. And now is as good a time as any.

I didn't want to remind everyone of that Verizon / nexus update fiasco. Google learned their lesson I hope. If they want to make the most money off of the nexus line as soon as possible, they need to follow samsung's model. Release the phone on as many carriers as possible on day one.

Wait people get Nexus phones and wait for carrier updates?
I have a Verizon Nexus and am just as satisfied as a gsm nexus owner.

^^THIS. With Verizon's coverage, and my traveling for business, I'm much happier than any GSM owner. If you can't because of your company's policies, I feel your pain. That's it. Best tech purchase I've made in a long time...

the only 2 manufacturer's confirmed for the new nexus devices is LG and HTC, and I think I heard something about Sony. I think HTC and LG will have quad core nexus phones with 2 gb ram similar to the new phones they have coming out, hopefully. I love Motorola hardware but hated the blur. A Motorola nexus phone with at least a super amoled like the current nexus would be nice but there are some better screens coming out, and I'd like to see if the razr HD screen is or will be better. But now that quad cores are working with LTE it has to have it, because all high end phones for 2013 will have them. Since Google owns Moto, I'm sure they would have a great contender.

For some reason I cant think of buying a LG Nexus Phone.
They better make 5 devices than just making LG nexus.

LG devices feel so cheap to me.

I feel your pain. I, too, sit at a desk all day. Should have done something slightly different with my current years. Oh well, I'm still young, things may change, just as technology is changing.

I'd love an HTC One X as a Nexus, but it seems that HTC is really the only OEM without a Nexus rumor of some sort.

There is a typo in the article, the Nexus One was announced in 2010 not 2009.

Also I think Google should give LG a shot on the next Nexus only because the Optimus G has such good specs, I wouldn't be disappointed if they made a Nexus version of that phone with the on screen navbar. A Galaxy Nexus 2 seems so boring now that the gnex is almost a year old and Sony Xperia phones have always seemed so weird shaped to me. In the end, it doesn't really matter much, I just hope they announce something soon, I've been holding out for the next nexus.

Google's purchase of Nik software shows it's getting serious about photography. But the Nexus cameras have always fallen short, and even the best Android phone camera on the market today (SGS3, by most accounts) is still no match for the iPhone's camera.

Since the Nexus program has always been about setting a new high bar for Android phones, it's time for Google to pony up and put a seriously good sensor and glass inside a phone. Make it clear to the handset makers that cutting corners on cameras is no longer acceptable.

(And yes, I've ranted about this before, but it's baffling to me that Samsung would strap such a great camera onto an SGS3 for the Galaxy Camera, pack a 4G radio inside, but somehow not build in a phone dialer! C'mon... you're almost all the way there. I realize the thickness of a full zoom lens won't be for everyone, but there must be a decent-sized market of folks who currently carry a phone and a pocket camera everywhere they go, and would gladly trade that out for a single device.)

I'm starting to get hungry for new Nexus rumors. Love the GNex, and it's still fast as heck, but a NEW Nexus would be awesome.

My contract ends tomorrow and I really want to get upgraded from my Optimus S but I'm holding out for a new Samsung Nexus phone. I really love the Galaxy Nexus but it's specs don't compare to phones like the S3 or the GNote2. Hopefully, Samsung will make a Galaxy Nexus 2 with higher-end specs, e.g., 2GB of RAM and maybe their LTE capable quad-core Exynos processor.

I wanted to respond to something Jerry said in the podcast. I don't think Nexus is just a developer phone, a reference device, or a device to usher in new hardware or software features. I think it's Google's (near) vertically integrated vision for Android. I just think back to what Vic Gundotra said about his GS3 how it runs an Android-based operating system. With every manufacturer putting their own twist and spin on Android, I feel that Google will push this line of devices onto consumers as a no-frills option compared to the myriad of available Android-based superphones. It matters little that there aren't any new hardware features to push this year. Look at Apple. They didn't push out a 3GS and 4S because those were major leaps ahead of their respective predecessors. They were created because this climate demands (at the very least)yearly refreshes of devices. If I had to guess I'd definitely say that Google unveils a new Nexus this year. I would also say it's entirely possible to release multiple Nexus devices by year's end. Although I'd probably say HTC is out of the mix just because of their "signature" Redmond-based phone.

It's interesting that this was a broad commentary but most of the comments are about the nexus line. Site where the heart of the members are. It has attractions above and beyond hardware specs, even for us who don't get our updates straight from Google.

Mostly because there isn't much else for android users to look forward to this year, but the new nexus. Maybe the CTIA event to. The google imagery part was info, saying it's been out and being posted for a while. The flagship thing, well, I think people who at least keep an eye on phones knows that flagship is a disposable term regardless of what company says it. Phone's have had a shelf life of about 6 months to a year for a while now. Least that's my opinion on it anyway.

Motorola RAZR MAXX HD. This is what I am waiting for. The screen is great, the hardware is current, and JB before 12/31/12 or I get $100. Now if only they would do a Dev Ed for the MAXX...

In reading that, I get a real sense of meh from Phil now that smartphones and tablets have reached such a powerful level and it will take something of a breakout of new related technology to get him truly excited about this space. Honestly, so many devices now have reached a level of exceptional capability. They all do most everything pretty well now. We need something like Google Project Glass to move along swiftly, I think. Go, nerds, go! Boredom is setting in.