Android Ecosystem — This Week in Android

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Over the past week, I’ve received a number of Twitter client suggestions for my Nexus One. I appreciate the options for sure, but it raises an interesting question. Brian asks on Twitter, “Why is everyone trying to get you to drop Seesmic?” Great question and I have no idea. The best tools are the ones that work and Seesmic simply works great for me. I did try TweetCaster last week but found less viewable text on the screen. I also gave Twicca a peek based on reader suggestions and while the minimalistic view and small font offers plenty of information one screen, there’s no support for multiple accounts — all things being equal, that’s a feature I need enough to give up on other features. Luckily, I don’t have to since Seesmic recently added support for multiple accounts and a persistent scroll position. Did I just hear a collective sigh from the readers, along with a “There he goes again with Seesmic?” ;) All joking aside, picking a Twitter client is a personal choice — for now, I’m sticking what’s working well for me. Again, I do appreciate the suggestions and I’m always willing to try a new bit of software on the Nexus One.

Enough about software; let’s chat up some hardware! I saw on PhoneScoop that Google is reducing the $350 “equipment recovery fee” down to $150 on a canceled Nexus One. This cost is in addition to the $200 early termination fee that T-Mobile requires for early contract cancellation. Since I bought my handset at the fully unsubsidized price of $529, I have no T-Mobile contract. In effect, I wouldn’t owe either Google (s goog) or T-Mobile a dime if I simply stopped using the device at the end of my monthly service billing cycle.

While I’m not affected, anyone purchasing a subsidized Nexus One would still have to pony up a total of $350 if ending their T-Mobile contract within 120 days. If Google is serious about getting into the phone hardware sales business, they’re going to have to do some future negotiating with the carriers. Customers won’t take lightly the payment of early termination fees to two different companies, for starters. I’d speculate that the only reason Google is charging a fee is because they’re not getting the subsidy amount they need from T-Mobile to offset the manufacturing costs for the phone in the first place. They might be selling the phone at a loss in order to gain market share and to spread Android out across a wider base. In a case like that, a canceled contract on a subsidized phone not only loses money at the point of sale, but doesn’t reap additional future benefits either.

Turning back to hardware for a second, I just checked out the poll we posted over the weekend. During a recent travel escapade — four airports in four days — I got a chance to test the 3G connection in various locations on my Nexus One after the software update that was meant to fix it. Based on what I experienced, I don’t believe the issue is resolved — at least not on my particular handset. Something’s not right when the phone switches between EDGE, UMTS and HSDPA in the course of two hours without moving. So after posting my findings, I polled Nexus One owners using a T-Mobile SIM.

Although 211 responses is hardly huge number, the results are concerning. 141 respondents, or 67% indicate they still have or now have sporadic 3G issues. That leaves 33% of the poll participants in good shape, but out of the entire poll total, only 22 folks indicated they had an issue and that the software update fixed it. My take — there’s still an issue of some type with the software — or there’s a hardware issue on some production runs. Since I’m still seeing the issue, I’m going to test out the support channels to see what I can do.

I am happy with the rest of that firmware upgrade, however. I’m already starring favorite locations in Google Maps on the desktop and those same locations are appearing with stars on my handset. And of course, the pinch-to-zoom is handy. One of the first questions that came to mind when this update hit was: will other Android 2.x devices get the multitouch functionality too? It sure will, and as early as this week. Engadget caught wind of the timing for Motorola Droid owners on the official Motorola (s mot) Facebook page — the rollout to Android 2.1, including multitouch in the browser, starts any day now. Just like the Nexus One update, Google Goggles is installed as a default app, but there’s no rotating cube of app icons nor any live wallpapers. I imagine those visual effects are best enabled by the slightly higher hardware specs powering the Nexus One and that new HTC Incredible that broke cover today.

Related research from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Google’s Mobile Strategy: Understanding the Nexus One

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Hopefully Google will get the new radio firmware OTA’d soon. It’s made a big difference for me. And I don’t know if it was the new radio code or the updated base code but the Nexus One is now better about offering me at&t for emergency calls when T-Mo drops the ball.

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