Google Nexus One review: Firstborn
Web browser stops just short of great: no flash support YET
The Nexus One is the Google Phone and an excellent web browser is a must. Web meets phone say Google themselves but, come to think of it, this is the standard these days. Anyway, with the exception of Flash, the browser performs brilliantly – no big surprise given the hardware specs and the latest version of Android.
The user interface, Google through and through, is completely minimalistic – all you get on the screen is an address bar and +/- zoom buttons. The address bar is placed on top of the page, so scrolling down moves it out of view and the zoom controls autohide – that’s essential for web apps because they need to get the whole screen estate all to themselves.
The Android Browser in its latest iteration supports three zoom methods – dedicated buttons, double tap and pinch. The +/- buttons do seem redundant, but the double tap and pinch zoom make for easy navigation of complex pages.
The Nexus One browser supports text reflow – a moment after adjusting the zoom level, columns of text adjust to fit the screen width. Without text reflow you will either have to zoom out until the text fits (but then it’s too small to read comfortably) or scroll sideways to read each line.
The minimalist UI is still quite powerful – hit the menu key and six keys pop up. You can open a new tab, switch tabs, refresh the page, go forward, open bookmarks. The final button reveals even more options (text copying, find on page, etc.).
The bookmark list shows a thumbnail of the bookmarked page and you also get a “most visited” list in addition to the history.
Flash support is the one letdown in this otherwise great browser. The hardware is quite capable of running it too: the HTC Desire, which is the HTC-branded version of the Nexus One, has Flash support. People have flashed their Nexus Ones with a Desire ROM, and Flash worked. So, it’s only a matter of time before Google enables it on their phones too. Unless of course, they share Steve Jobs’ reservations about the Flash platform.
There is of course a YouTube application onboard but Flash content doesn't start nor end with YouTube.
YouTube have been trying out an HTML5 version of their player, which works without Flash, but we couldn’t test it. YouTube always loaded the Flash-powered version for some reason.
Organizer does the job, with some help from the Android Market
Our Nexus One came with the free version of Quickoffice, which has support for viewing document files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF). For editing, you will need to get the paid app.
The best part about it is that the viewer integrates with the Gmail app as well, so you can view attachments . Unfortunately, you can’t save them in the phone's memory (that only works for images, we guess). Attaching saved files (and we mean all kind of files) is possible though.
The calendar has four different types of view - agenda, daily, weekly and monthly. Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.
The agenda view shows a list of all the calendar entries from the recent past to the near future. It’s a very handy tool when you need to check your appointments for the next few days.
There is also a calculator aboard. It is nicely touch optimized - the buttons are big enough and easy to hit.
The Nexus One features a decent alarm clock application which allows a huge number of alarms to be set, each with its own start time and repeat pattern.
Finally comes the YouTube app which, as we said, partially compensates for the web browser's lack of Flash support. Its interface is simple enough to let you find whatever you're looking for as quickly as possible.