Google Experience phones

One of the most important things to remember about the mobile space, I believe, is that there are so many moving parts. I can't help but believe that for as much about this business as we think we know, there's so much more going on behind closed doors. Never mind super secret new hardware. That's a given. It's the business end of things that provide the "why" and "how."

The past week -- past couple weeks, actually -- we've been thinking a lot about why we now have more "Google Experience" phones based on hardware that was designed hand-in-hand with another software experience altogether. Why is Google offering "stock" versions of the HTC One and Galaxy S4 alongside the Nexus 4?

The first answer I tell myself usually is "because it can." And there are worse reasons to do things, I suppose. But there has to be something in it for Samsung and HTC. I'm guessing quicker access to new code, plain and simple. 

Anyhoo. We'll take a look at these new Google Experience devices when they're available toward the end of the month. I'm mainly interested in how the cameras perform, along with general use.

A few other quick thoughts for this fine Sunday:

  • Looking forward to the Talk Mobile 2013 launch party this Thursday in New York City. Getting to meet readers is probably my favorite part of this job. We need to do more of that, whether it's a handshake on a street corner, or more official meet-ups.
  • I'm even more excited that TM13 content finally starts to drop on Monday. The run-up seemed to take forever. I haven't even seen the finished product yet. But that's a testament to the team working on it. I'm not worried about it in the slightest.
  • I agree with Alex. The Nexus 4 is still a damn fine phone, and probably the best value in an Android smartphone. I've been carrying the white version around for a few days. I miss the rubber sides, but it's not a deal-breaker.
  • Version 1.2 of the Android Central App is aiming to address some of the top feature requests we've had. It's been an interesting experience for me. I use the app, too, of course, so there are things I want RIGHT THIS SECOND that I've had to learn to wait for, just like everyone else. I think we're making steady progress on an app that was better than pretty good out of the gate, and maybe that's a better way of going about things, instead of dumping 200 features into an app at launch.
  • That said, I'm still seeing a few e-mails from folks upset that the old app doesn't work anymore. (How did anyone miss the news of the new app?) Trust me, it's a good thing that old app doesn't work anymore. Uninstall it. Please. Use this one instead.
  • I'm officially plenty impressed with Google Music All Access. Probably the best $7.99-a-month I'll spend this year. You've got the rest of this month to sign up at that discounted rate.
  • I'm less impressed with the new Gmail format, using tabs to split up your inbox. I gave it a few days, but it was just a much slower experience for me. And I deal with too much e-mail to have the process become slower. So long, tabs. We'll just have to see how the mobile experience changes.
  • Speaking of music, how awesome is it that a new Nine Inch Nails record is coming, probably in the next month or two. Figure it'll be released about the time the tour starts, right?
  • New Queens of the Stone Age this week. New Jimmy Eat World next week. Sweet.
  • Tough to see the Chicago Sun-Times lay off its entire photo staff and move to freelancers and crowdsourcing. I'm actually a proponent of the utility journalist -- you need to be able to write and shoot and record and edit more than ever. That said, I can take pictures -- occasionally even some good ones -- but that doesn't make me a photographer. Same goes for any other specialty in a newsroom. Those kinds of positions don't come cheap anymore, though.
  • Some good thoughts on the Sun-Times layoffs from Jeff Jarvis and more from Mathew Ingram, in you're interested in how this all works.

Reader comments

From the editor's desk: The first quick hits of summer


No offense, but while the new app is great for reading news, it's horrid for using the forums. It logs me out all the time, and it doesn't even indicate unread threads. Sticking to the old app for now.

Yeah, they're different implementations. We'll continue to improve the forum functionality in the new AC app, but the AC Tapatalk app is better on that front right now.

I'm interested in whether any pre-existing carrier Galaxy S4 and HTC One can be flashed up with the stock Android image myself - say the T-Mobile S4 or the AT&T HTC One. We'll see.

AT&T phones are never pentaband, tmobile ones nearly always are. You need pentaband to get most of tmobile's HSPA+ network. The HTC One Nexus uses the AT&T hardware, so the software from the One Nexus should be easily flushable to an AT&5 (or A US Unlocked) One. We don't know what the GS4 Nexus will use yet, but I'm crossing my fingers it's the T-Mobile version, so we get HSPA+ tmobile and all its MNVOs.

But since its a software programmable radio, can you say with certainty that the AT&T phones actually have a DIFFERENT radio chipset, and not just the same one with different programming?

Is Google educating Samsung and HTC? "See . . the water really is lovely, jump in!"

To full benefit from this high end hardware users need the Camera applications developed by Sammy and HTC; and probably other hardware specific elements.

If the HTC One Google Edition is solid, I will sell my Nexus4 and pick this up. Never going 16GB only again...ever...

I'm somewhat stymied by these "Google Edition" phones, too. Do you think this means anything for the Nexus line going forward? I'm waiting to see what the next Nexus phone will be.

Also, I'm really surprised that there wasn't a single new Nexus device announced at Google I/O.

I know it's a developer conference, but they announced the Nexus 7 and Android 4.1 there last year, so I thought there might be similar announcements this year.

I on the other hand learned YEARS AGO that creating a A filter in Gmail is drop dead simple, and even a child can have Gmail Sort your massages into folders of your choosing. When I say Child, I mean my 12 year old grandson who gets his homework assignments by email and learns to keep that separate from his soccer team, and mail from other kids.

I think they work great if you don't already have filters and labels set up in your inbox. If you already have your gmail sorted the way you want it adds complication to the process. For anyone who hasn't bothered to do this already or doesn't know how (all the people who are afraid of emailed receipts because they "get too much email already") would really benefit - although, to be fair, a lot of those people probably use AOL...

I think it's possible that Google will end this year the Nexus line. They will made an an Google Edition with every big Smartphone manufacturer when they want, and Motorola will made X phone and other with Stock Android. Directly updated from Google! :-)

Maybe this is just an easier way for them to give a pure Android experience on multiple carriers. They never seem to release Nexus devices on more than 1 carrier, usually T-Mobile.

Never? What are you talking about? The Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus were on both multiple carriers, CDMA and GSM. The other Nexus phones have been compatible with GSM networks.

It is all about the LTE access. Google heard the cres about the Nexus 4 not having LTE, and they responded with the Google Editions!

Hate to tell you Phil I still use and love the old widget. Colors are awesome ac blue rocks. Don't need it to scroll because it's not like there is breaking news every hour. As for your app need larger font and forum should be in main tabs.

I agree. I love the 2x2 size of the old widget. It's just the right size. 4x3 is just too big for me. Now if I could have the new scrollable widget in 2x2.......

I think Google did this simply because it's good for Android. It gives people a common user experience--the best in my opinion--across different hardware preferences. I still think (hope!) they would want to continue the Nexus line to provide a hardware experience to complement where they foresee Android heading, and especially since it's good for developers.

It's an interesting experiment. Everyone keeps yelling for a Stock Android. Now that you can get it on these phones, do you actually want it? Or are all the extra bits that HTC and Samsung add to the phone desirable enough that you'd prefer their offerings?

Of course what would be truly desirable would be Stock Android + OEM Novelty extras.


The advert that pops up when viewing this page is getting blocked by my company as it is coming up as a malware host. Might want to get that checked out!!