What We Knew About the Nexus 5 in August
The rumour mill is a very crazy thing. It builds upon hyped up products and feeds off of rabid fanboy anticipation. But finally, the adults come to the kids table, and set things straight.
I made this post in August detailing my predictions for the Nexus 5, and Android 5 Key Lime Pie. Back then, people didn't know if it would be called the Nexus 5, and we now know that Android 5 KLP is now Android 4.4 Kit Kat.
There was speculation as to whether LG was to make the next Nexus. They did say at one point that they had no interest in making another Nexus after the Nexus 4. I said that "if I were a betting man, prospective Nexus 5 owners should get used to the LG G2. Turns out, the LG G2 was the base of this year's Nexus 5. It's like I'm a genius.
Self gloating aside, I made some
rants predictions about what the next version of Android would be like. And now, here's a close analysis:
KITKAT IS FRESH
- Polish. Matias Duarte himself is quoted as saying that Android is only "1/3rd of the way there" in terms of how cohesive the OS is. Gmail, Google Now, Maps, and Google+ apps have all seen this kind of design shift that isn't too alien from the "Holo UI" unveiled with the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4 in 2011, but is a cut above in usability and sleekness. I think this new design language will prevail in Android 5 to make the interface simpler and cleaner.
Verdict: Kitkat is fresh. Like, real fresh. The transparent notification and navigation bars, Google Now is front and centre and it's unique look feels like it. Cards are everywhere and they're beautiful. The hamburger is consistent within most Google apps. Win.
- Versatility. The iPhone 4 has a 1Ghz processor, 512MB of RAM, a 5MP camera, and a 1420 mAh battery. My Nexus S has, more or less, the same specifications. Only one of them is receiving an official OS update this year. I don't want to turn this into a fragmentation issue, as I'll demonstrate in point #5. But Android 5 should have minimum requirements that fit the Nexus S's specs. The idea of a modern mobile OS is that it can solve tasks without you booting up your computer, doing so using low power technology. Now this can't work miracles (you won't be seeing iOS7 on an iPhone 3GS either), but on a mobile OS, one shouldn't need bleeding edge octa-core processors just to check email, post a tweet, and make a phone call.
Verdict: Google made Kitkat possible on phones with 512MB of RAM. Whether my Nexus S (which has since broken, I'm using an HTC Evo right now, pity me) will be updated to Android 4.4 remains to be seen. The Nexus S stopped being update supported with 4.1. But at least the phone is capable of doing it. At the same time, Google still has no way to update Android software directly on their end. I believe this can be built into Android one day whilst side-stepping manufacturer differences. Nice try Google, but you still have a ways to go.
- User Facing. The little things. How come sticking emoji around on Android is still a pain? My Nexus 7 happens to have an emoji keyboard that you have to dig in settings to enable, and it's meant to be a Japanese keyboard. If you don't own a Nexus with the iWnn IME input, you're up shit creek without a paddle. Why don't Hangouts and Messaging work as seamlessly, nay as beautifully as iMessage does?
Verdict: Wuh-hey, they read what I was saying. Google Keyboard now has an emoji keyboard built in, which should have decent emoji support for Android 4.1-4.3, and full colourful emoji support for 4.4. Oh and Hangouts and SMS are integrated, and while the leaked APK for the integrated Hangouts doesn't work on my Evo, I don't expect it to and I assume it should be good on a way newer, more powerful device. I get a lot of shit from Android purists about how Google needs to make their devices more in tune with Apple's as far as the "make sense"-yness of their devices. And gosh darn it, they did it!
via Android Police
- Good Ol' Customisation. Android has always been the custom OS, and ROM runners love that. Its a double edged sword as you'll see in #5 (and probably already know well) but why should a user have to go through the least user friendly routes in the world just to be able to give their phone some of the touches they want? Take a cue from Motorola, Samsung, LG, and the like: what if I want to make the blue icons in my status bar red? Maybe I want to change the system font? Can I have the battery percentage in the status bar? Can I change what my quick toggles are? With Android 5, customisation should take a giant leap, because widgets are no longer enough.
Verdict: Yeaahhh no. Kit Kat's new design is nice, but for stock, you get one option, and goddammit you better like it! Seriously though, those are lost points. Baked in customisation is a plus and could even be a selling feature of "making a phone yours."
- Fragmentation will always be an issue until Google goes Apple and makes the phone and the software. Their only jurisdiction is Nexus, and they can't succeed alone with that product just yet. A Galaxy S5, and HTC Two, and DROID SUPER DUPER LTE 4K EXTREME will likely end up being behind the curve that Google would like them to be at some point during their upcoming releases. That matters less and less, thanks to Google Play Services. Starting with Android 5, more core features should be placed into Google Play services, so they can be pushed out to all approved (read: capable) Android phones. Google Keyboard, Now, and the recent Device Manager have shown that Google can reign in the loose cattle. Making core Android updates less of a pain just by reinventing how updates are done.
Verdict: Yeah no. Again, Google did a good job making Android run on lower-spec devices. That's cute. Android 4.4 should have laid the ground work for making the major parts of Android part of Play Services, or individual apps. Ventures like Google Keyboard, Wallet, and Hangouts are all in the right direction.
THE RUMOUR MILL IS KEY TO GOOGLE STRATEGY
So what can we learn? I think Google actually listens to some of our speculation. My ideas were made up of things I've heard other people say, and many of them came to fruition in Kit Kat. The benefit to having a Nexus is that those of us who do are on the front lines of Android. We are the most passionate, and often times the most critical. (hint: read the comments). Nevertheless, Google is listening to us. So as crazy as some of these rumours can be, the speculation is definitely key to Google's strategy, both for building hype, and helping Google connect to what other people really want.
And oh yeah, I was totally right on my predictions. Not to be too smug.