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Summary:

Those Google Play Edition phones are great, but they’re not Nexus devices, so don’t expect a perfect experience. Moto X leaks indicate a lower cost mass market phone while Google’s smartwatch could blend Google Now with great hardware.

android-this-week

This week saw the release of two handsets Android enthusiasts have waited years to get. Perhaps not this particular pair of phones, the Galaxy S 4 and HTC One, but rather, actually flagship phones that run pure Android without any manufacturer software or skin installed. Are these Google Play Edition handsets, priced at $649 and $599, respectively, the perfect Android experience? Yes and no, it turns out.

While both phones are receiving good reviews for their overall performance and ability to be customized, just like Google’s Nexus phones, they weren’t designed to run pure Android. As a result, some of the hardware choices make for a mixed bag of experiences. And while I’m a big fan of the plain Android experience myself, I do appreciate some of the future-forward features that Samsung and HTC added to these phones on top of Android. You won’t get most of them with the Google Play Editions, however.

HTC One GE

ComputerWorld’s JR Raphael has already spent time with both of the new phones and cautions readers on some of these now missing features. He also points out the hardware button configurations that can break up the standard Android experience and discusses the update strategy for both phones going forward. It’s not exactly clear how quickly the devices will see Android updates although Google has said “soon” after the software is released. The kernels of both phones are different because HTC and Samsung have created their own for the phones. So, right off the bat these don’t run the standard Nexus software.

Google is also working on the Moto X phone with its Motorola subsidiary and this week, more photos and information leaked about the phone. Motorola has called this a “flagship” phone that arrives in the summer, but the information so far screams mid-range phone. A 720p resolution touchscreen,  2 GB of memory, 16 GB of storage capacity and a dual-core 1.7 GHz Snapdragon chip are expected. It appears that rather than a hero device, the Moto X could be a powerhouse portable for the masses with a relatively low price, but we’ll soon find out.

Late in the week, it was reported that Google is working on an Android gaming console, media streamer and smartwatch. While the first two products will appeal to many, I’m more interested in the smartwatch, mainly because Google has all the pieces to build an outstanding wearable device.

My thought is that Google borrows heavily from the Motorola MotoACTV smartwatch, which is a good start. The device acts both as a second screen for smartphone apps or data and as a standalone device thanks to a bevy of radios. It also runs Android already.

motoactv-featured

Google Now could provide much of the contextual information on the wrist just as it does on smartphones today. The small cards offer just enough data for a small screen. And those cards are the basis for much of the Google Glass user interface. By combining it with a small touchscreen and using the simple Google Glass interface experience, I think Google can make a smartwatch that will appeal to a very wide audience.

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  1. adityasainiblogger Saturday, June 29, 2013

    I think Moto X is nothing in front of HTC One and S4 but let’s see what happens .

    1. last coming device ll have better spec,feauture & performance than released one

      1. Er, again? Perhaps in Latvian, this time?

  2. i just wish companies like HTC and Samsung would sell generic unlocked editions of there own handsets, that do not include any carrier branding. these phones could get the latest firmware version direct from HTC and Samsung(and other manufactures) instead of having to wait on AT&T, verizon, sprint, etc.

    it seems this is common in a lot of countries but not here in the USA.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel tom Sunday, June 30, 2013

      I agree, but I suspect the carriers would hold such actions against the manufacturers in terms of picking up handsets to sell and in marketing. :(

      1. than we the consumers could hold such actions against the carriers when we make our choices.

        i truly believe the reason carriers in the US have so much control has everything to do with consumers who do not feel as empowered as in other countries particularly european and asian nations. i do know that many carriers in europe have tried to butcher the handset experience in much the way US carriers do, but they found consumers moving away from there products when they did so. same with phone subsidizes, the european carriers tried for year to push everyone to 2 years contract enticing them with free or cheap handsets and the consumers said ‘no thanks i will buy my handset outright and you better offer me a nice no contract plan for significantly less money or i willl just flee to a cheap MVNO’

  3. btw, i totally agree w/you on the Google watch. i had a motoactiv for several months and sold it for a Jawbone UP and really regret selling it.

    it is/was a great smartwatch or 2nd gen one :)

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