Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-book reader runs Android! (gotta love the name… “Nook e-book” is every bit as good as the Wii for puns and jokes!) I’m not surprised to see that Nook is powered by Android, especially after running across a dual boot Android/XP netbook and a “dualbook” (part e-reader, part Android netbook) called the enTourage eDGe. The Android operating system is definitely designed for more than just cellphones. It’s an OS for mobile devices.
So while I understand there are limitations with the refresh rate of the E-Ink display, it’s hard not to get carried away thinking about the possibilities. I’ll be honest, I was not really interested in the Nook until I heard it will run Android. That changed everything. So while some complain that Nook would be great if it only had text-to-speech or a web browser, I don’t really care about the current features anymore. (Yes, their e-books are overpriced.) Someone is going to hack this thing, and that will be the point at which it becomes amazing and irresistible. Let me put it this way: 10-inch screen+wifi+micro-sd slot+color touchscreen+Android+root=Awesomeness!
Update: I have switched from JF 1.5.1 to the latest Cyanogen ROM (v.4.0.2). You should NOT use Apps2SD with this ROM because it already has built-in support for using your microSD card for app storage (you still need to set up a separate ext partition so it will work). More details are available here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=537204
Back in October 2008 I started using Google’s first Android phone, the T-mobile G1. By the end of January 2009 there were 800 Android apps compared to over 15,000 iPhone apps. Of course, the iPhone had been around for well over a year at that point. But I think 2009 will be the year that Google Android really comes into its own as more than a dozen new models of Android phones are introduced. There are definite pros and cons to going with an open platform like Android, and I hope I can offer a realistic view of the good and the not-so-good that I have experienced with my Android G1 phone so far.
New Favorite Apps
I am still very happy overall with my G1. Especially now that I have root access to my phone I can do even more, like tether my laptop to my phone’s Internet connection via wifi. At the 1-month mark I made a list of my top 20 Android apps. That list has changed quite a bit, so here is my new list of top 20 Android apps. Interestingly, only 5 of these apps were on my first list 9 months ago. They are marked in bold. All the apps below are free unless marked otherwise.
Where – Displays movies, weather, etc. based on your location. It also has voice recognition and Yellowbook search, which presents you with address and phone numbers of businesses based on your location which you can then call or look up on a GoogleMap with a click or two.
BeyondPod ($2.99) – A Podcast app that allows you to manage podcasts and even update them over wifi. (So iPod Touch, why can’t you do this?)
Sky Map – Allows you to see stars, planets, and constellations just by holding your G1 in the direction you want to look (including the ones beneath the horizon). The digital compass, accelerometer, and GPS to move your phone around and see different areas of the sky. A very cool example of what augmented reality (AR) apps can do.
Wikitude – This is another great augmented reality app, but this one lets you “see” cities and landmarks close to you by holding the phone in front of you and turning in any direction. Selecting the names on the screen pulls up the web page for that city or point of interest in wikipedia.
Places Directory – Google’s version of Where. I can’t decide which one I like best so I use them both. Places uses you location to look up restaurants, shops, parks, and other points of interest. You get addresses and phone numbers you can use to locate or call whatever it is you are trying to find.
It sounds like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel: a tiny computer, worn around your neck, that lets you surf the Web from any location and project it onto any surface. But MIT Media Lab’s Sixth Sense machine allows you to do just that.