Google App Engine

The Google Nexus One and Android

Copyright 2011 by Stephen Vermeulen
Last updated: 2011 Mar 06

3g alone appear beta brings certainly configure convert cycle databases decided department easily effective except formats game gsm hack health https intended leave let medium middle minute mounting move netbooks particularly phones plan prefer proxy registration remove results road room said seem select selling showthread sim someone stick streamer successfully sure thoughts try volume whole word yet

The Google Nexus One Phone by HTC

  • 2010-Jul-21: It looks like Google is going to stop selling the Nexus One directly to end users. While this might make short-term business sense in North America I think this is rather short sighted on Google's part, if they had let the program run longer, perhaps with another few models being released they might have found more significant results to the effort. Well only about 5 days have passe since Google issued their warning and now the last stock is gone, further discussion here on Slashdot. I still think Google should have stuck to the program on this one, perhaps allowing it to be purchased in more foreign countries (which are less dependent on the carrier-subsidy model that distorts the US market) and perhaps they could have offered lease to own type purchase arrangements, so that Americans could have bought the phone on a "low monthly payment". [9304]
  • 2010-Jul-09: How to get Ubuntu running on the Nexus One [9288]
  • 2010-Jul-09: The Google Nexus One Phone does work on Virgin Mobile in Canada. As of 26-Mar-2010 I was able to successfully connect my (ATT/Rogers style) Nexus One to the Virgin Mobile network in Calgary, Canada. It runs fine and with the data plan activated it works over the 3G (HSDPA) network quite nicely. Getting connected was much more painful than it needed to be. Here's the story:
    1. It all started when I heard from a couple of friends that the unlocked Nexus One was now available to Canadians and that they had taken the plunge. So I did a bit more research and found that there were now two variants: one (the AWS version - for "3G on T-Mobile USA") would only work on the Wind network in Canada and the other ("compatible with 3G on ATT and Rogers Wireless") should work on Rogers, Fido, Telus, Bell and Virgin. I ordered the ATT/Rogers version because it offered me more carrier choices in Canada.
    2. After researching the various carrier offerings (and rediscovering that the thinly-disguised monopolistic cell phone price fixing conspiracy was still alive and well in Canada) I decided to stick with Virgin Mobile where I already had a pre-paid phone.
    3. I then called Virgin's support to see if they thought the Nexus One was compatible, they confirmed that the specifications were a match and stated that: as this was not a "supported phone" they could not guarantee data would work. They said when I got the phone to take it to one of their stores and get hooked up using their GSM SIM card.
    4. I then paid a visit to their North Hill mall booth (they don't really have "stores" just booths in Calgary) only to be told "they only do CDMA phones". Of course Virgin has only recently begun handling GSM/3G type phones, but you'd think their staff training would have mentioned the fact that now they are carrying the iPhone and offering SIM cards and that they had joined the GSM/3G service crowd (like the rest of the Virgin operations around the world). I also visited the Bell booth (Virgin runs on Bell's network in Canada and shares network towers with Telus, competing with Rogers and Fido) and they were ready to try right away.
    5. Undaunted I called Virgin service the next day, reconfirmed that the phone would work and that I would be able to port my pre-paid phone number and remaining balance to the new plan and then settled back to wait for DHL to deliver the phone.
    6. Once the phone arrived I returned to the Virgin booth, this time it was staffed by someone who did know that they did more than CDMA, so we got set to the task of hooking up. After about 15 minutes of credit check, verifying that the phone's IMEI number was listed in their database as compatible (for the 3rd time!) we got to the part where they scan in the SIM card's number and associate the phone by its IMEI number. At this point we got a rather odd error from their system saying something like "the SIM card is incompatible with the selected plan". The salesman called his support line and they got the same error and after a few minutes they just gave up. The salesman gave it another shot (this time starting as if I did not have an existing account, in case the pre-paid legacy account was messing things up) and even used a different SIM, but still got the same error. As I was running late, I just called it a day and left.
    7. The next morning I called Virgin support and told them what had happened, they went through the same registration process (again checking the IMEI for compatibility) and ran into the same error (using a SIM card on their end as I had been unable to purchase one). This time support called their support, and after a few minutes on hold, they returned to say they had got around the error and we could proceed, but that I would have to now buy a SIM card from one of their stores. However, all the account stuff had been done and I had a new (non-working) phone number and once I had the SIM I was to call back and they could complete the process.
    8. So at lunch time I went SIM shopping, its just a little $5 card that all the Virgin retailers carry and there are several a short ways from my office, so I checked stock levels at The Source (as the Virgin Booth is further away) and walked over. On my way I passed "The Telephone Booth" which had a big Virgin Mobile display at the front of their store, so I went in and asked for a SIM, they wanted $42 for it (unless I registered through them) so I resumed my search for The Source.
    9. At The Source they said no problem, they had the SIMs but needed to check the phone first, so they checked the IMEI against the database and then got out their "test SIM" (which was from Bell), popped it into the phone and declared it good. So then they proceeded to sell me the Virgin SIM, but at some point in the checkout process they have to have a Virgin Account number (to sell the SIM against), so they wanted to go through the registration process (again!). I told them this had already been started and it was on hold pending purchase of the SIM. They called Virgin, and after about 10 minutes of back and forth (and another IMEI check, credit card check and photo ID recheck) they got the account number out of Virgin and were able to complete the sale. All in all, about 25 minutes to make a $5 sale - how do these guys stay in business?
    10. Later that day, SIM in phone, I call Virgin back again to resume the process. After about 10 minutes on hold I get an operator and after a brief description of what I need to do she decides another department needs to handle the call, so back on hold. After about 30 minutes more on hold I hang up and call back to the support line again, this time I get through and after about 5 minutes we have completed the next step. The SIM and the IMEI are now associated! So now I have to power off the phone, pull out the SIM, reinsert it, power up the phone and then wait for 2 hours for the phone and network to connect up and then call them back to finish the data configuration step.
    11. After 2 hours I check the phone and the it appears to be on the GSM network (I don't see any 3G indicator), I can make a phone call with it and I have received two text messages from Virgin welcoming me to the party. Things are looking good, so I call them up, wait for about 15 minutes, talk to someone in support who curtly tells me the phone is not supported by them so 3G ain't going to work, your phone's only going to do what its doing now, goodbye. I hope Virgin reviews their call recordings on that one... Muttering to myself I dig through my accumulated net-searches on Virgin 3G lore and find this helpful article where the author reports the same sort of grief. He mentions that the solution is actually documented on Virgin's site (note: Virgin has since removed this page from their site and when I pointed it out to them they denied it even existed, you can get the information you need from Bell's site, since Virgin just resells Bell's service) in a cunningly concealed section of the page on their SIM cards. I found that following the setup (under the misleading heading "What Do I Get?") for the iPhone 3G/3GS eventually worked just fine. These are the settings that worked for me, there are some other settings that I didn't enter anything for.
      • APN:
      • Proxy:
      • Port: 80
      • MMSC
      • MMS Proxy:
      • MCC: 302
      • MNC:610
      To get to the data entry page on your Nexus One go into the Settings menu, then "Wireless & networks", then "Mobile networks", then "Access Point Names", then (for me) it says "virgin", I click on this and it gets to the "Edit access point" menu. Initially it did not seem to do anything, but after a few minutes I thought "what if my phone's too smart, perhaps when it is connected via WiFi it does not display the 3G indicator?". So I shut down my WiFi connection and the 3G icon popped into view, a quick test confirmed that data was flowing through 3G and all was well!
    12. Well that should have been the end of the story, only the next day I realized that in all of this Virgin never actually shut down the old account and ported the number, so I had to call them again (20 minute hold) and go through the number porting process. This required another SIM remove/replace and wait an hour or two cycle, but now things appear to be working.
    13. I just have to wait a few days and check that their accounting department did move the unused balance from my pre-paid phone to the new monthly (one month term contract) plan. Oh joy, another half hour of hold time ahead. And yes, they did transfer the remaining balance from the pre-paid plan, so nothing was lost there.
  • 2010-Jul-03: If you can't stand the wait for the over the air update to Froyo to arrive you can follow the steps described here. [9275]
  • 2010-Jun-22: So the iPhone sends some usage data after dark, I wonder if Android devices do the same? So why can't the carriers log this information themselves? [9230]
  • 2010-Jun-08: A USB Host Driver has been demonstrated for the Nexus One. [9185]
  • 2010-Jun-03: HomePipe and DoubleTwist offer some media playing and streaming solutions for Android. [9161]
  • 2010-Apr-11: Thoughts after a couple of weeks. I have owned a Google Nexus One for a couple of weeks now and I thought it would be a good time to record some first impressions. In a word BETA. Yes, in keeping with Google's fine tradition of apparently never finishing anything, this is most certainly a beta product. Now given the intended audience (geeks) of the Nexus One this is not a particularly bad thing, but Android is being billed as a mass-market phone (and appliance) operating system and I am finding the smart phone platform is falling short of what a consumer would need, want or expect.

    The hardware is quite good, the device looks and feels nice. The screen is very nice, except in bright sunlight. The digitizer generally works quite well, it certainly feels like the iPhones I have played with. The sound quality is good for both phone and media functions. The battery life is good for this sort of device, I'm getting about two days of use out of it by which time the battery level is at about 30%, but I don't do many calls and maybe log about an hour of web surfing, an hour or two of MP3 playback and about 2.5 hours of GPS use in that time. I leave the WiFi and Bluetooth radios on all the time. The fastest drain is when I use the GPS (using Google's Latitude and the MyTracks route tracker applications). I like the fact the battery is user-swapable and there is a microSD card slot.

    The only issues I have with the hardware so far are:

    • The ringer volume (as is mentioned here along with other issues) is too low
    • the back cover is rather hard to remove, they could fix this quite easily by including a ridge or slot to get a grip on, or better yet a small latch.
    • I would prefer that the microSD card slot was exposed (i.e. externally accessible on one side) so one could change cards without having to power down the phone, remove the back cover and battery and the reassemble everything. My little Samsung flip phone did this quite well. Perhaps there should be two slots, an internal one that is used as fixed storage and an external one that is intended for user-swapping?
    • the dock connector appears to only provide a power connection, any other connection must be either through the USB port (which is limited) or via Bluetooth or WiFi radio. This may be a good thing, but at the moment it limits what other things the unit can be used for. Perhaps someone will make a WiFi player dock for it so that the device can be used to play video to an external monitor or TV.
    • For a few cents more why didn't they put an infrared transmitter/receiver on this so that it could also be used as a programmable remote control?
    The software, this is the part of the phone that's really beta. I have not had any real problems with the underlying OS, I have not had to reboot the phone to get it to function properly or anything like that. My gripe is with the included applications. One of the things I wanted from this phone was a unification of the functions of my old phone plus my old Palm Tungsten T3 PDA, so that I would be able to replace two devices with one and have more functionality at hand too (like the GPS and browsing on the go). So far the places I find that fail are with the basic PDA functions. Here's how I see it:
    • The GMail client is pretty good, its an effective way of doing email triage on the road (train) and the unification of your email into the Google GMail cloud is very well done. You do something on either the GMail web client (at home or at the office or where ever) or on the phone and it's auto-synchronized in a seamless fashion. For anyone who needs to deal with email while on trips this would be worth it alone.
    • The contacts manager is also very good, again it pulls off a nice, seamless two way synchronization All you need to do to make this useful is to import your contacts into the GMail contacts lists. I had to do some work on this one because GMail does not have a direct import from Palm devices, you have to export to a CSV and then upload to GMail, which is ok, except GMail import does not understand a lot of the columns that the Palm export provides so it just tosses a lot of stuff into the "Notes" section.
    • The todo (tasks) list is missing. Total fail, GMail has a todo list on the web, but to get at it from your Nexus One you must visit a web page! Todo lists have been standard on PDAs since the beginning, so why is this missing?
    • The Note taking function is also missing. It seems obvious that this should have been implemented as something that interfaced with Google Docs on the web, in fact there is a third-party free application called GDocs that attempts to fill this void.
    • While the device does have a media player that does a reasonable job of MP3 playback and video playback this is a very basic implementation. It lacks the glitter of what the world has come to expect from the iPhone, so it's just basic marketing that this needs to be improved. Note the video formats this can play appears to be pretty limited, so expect to transcode anything you want to view here. Given there are a lot of inexpensive media players that are based on Linux that do a great job of playing just about anything without using super powerful chips one wonders why this cannot be done on this phone?

    The last issue is with accessing the microSD card over the USB cable to load or unload data. As a geek I can understand why they have done what they have done, but surely there must be a better way! Here is what the user sees:

    1. Upon connecting his Nexus One to a computer via the USB cable he gets a notification that says the USB was connected.
    2. He then drags open the notifications list and touches the USB notification.
    3. Then a dialog appears saying: "You have connected your phone to your computer via USB. Select "Mount" if you want to copy files between your computer and your phone's SD card." and it gives you two buttons: "Mount" and "Don't Mount". This simply reeks of geek, and not just any geek, we're talking about 50 year old UNIX geeks with massive beards that wear old hiking boots to work in case they need to climb things in the server room! Mount, don't talk to me about Mount! Steve Jobs must find this hilarious!
    4. Once you hit "mount" your microSD card becomes accessible from the computer and then you can use it until you use the Window's remove USB devices tool to eject it (in a way equally mysterious, but in this day of USB thumb drives something that most people know how to use).
    5. Once you do this the Nexus One gives you another notification titled: "Turn off USB storage", tapping this gets you another dialog that reads "Before turning off USB storage, make sure you have unmounted the USB host. Select "Turn Off" to turn off USB storage." and gives you to choices "Turn Off" and "Cancel". Again the mountains appear on the phone.
    In my view what should happen is that when you plug in the USB cable the phone should immediately do all the mounting, the fact it can detect the connection and then prompt you, tells me that there's no real reason why it could not have just done the mounting right away. The mounting attempt might fail if some phone application current was using the SD card (though I have not seen this happen yet), in which case it should notify you of the problem. Then Windows would have quickly opened the drive and you could get onto the important business of dragging over some more MP3s right away. Once you are done with the drive in Windows, you should just use the Windows eject function as normal. Then the phone would detect the end of the session (as it currently does) and instead of bothering you with some more UNIX voodoo it should just silently umount the drive and return it to the normal phone mode - only if there is a problem should it prompt you for anything. This would make the whole process plug and play, the only voodoo left is on the Windows box when ejecting the drive at the end, and that's now accepted as "normal". [9069]
  • 2010-Apr-03: A short guide to using Handbrake to re-encode video for playback on the Nexus One phone. Once you have converted some files transfer them across the USB cable to the flash card and then use the built-in "Gallery" application to play them. [9050]
  • 2010-Apr-02: The 3200mAh battery for the Nexus One, for those that want even more run time per charge, up to about 30 hours. [9049]
  • 2010-Mar-28: MyNexusOne has a bunch of articles and links to videos about the Nexus One. [9040]


Various Android topics:

            back to home