The Third Screen: Android's Next Act, The Samsung Galaxy Nexus

What a distance mobile has come since Apple launched the iPhone back in 2007. 

BlackBerry was dominant back in the day, and Android was just launching with Google. Apple and Google both evolved their platforms, the apps marketplace exploded and more consumers entered the world of the smartphone. 

We’re now talking to our iPhone 4S, asking Siri, the sometimes flippant digital assistant, life-pondering questions or map directions to somewhere. And we appreciate the irony that she uses Google Maps to do so.

Now comes the latest iteration from Google and Samsung, the red hot Samsung Galaxy Nexus, running the all-new Android operating system Ice Cream Sandwich.

There was a line to get one at our local Verizon Wireless store when they started selling them this morning. And the operating system is so new -- and different-- that our salesperson was not yet well-versed in the new features. About the same size as the other hot new phone, Motorola’s Droid Razr, the Galaxy Nexus makes the iPhone seem tiny. Not a complaint -- just an observation.



The question a buyer will have to answer is: What size phone do they want to carry?

As one of my smartphone-owning sons views it: “Is this phone just another thing in my pocket or is it the main thing in my pocket? ”Smaller than a toaster but bigger than a DroidX, the Galaxy Nexus is a very slick and very fast device that runs on Verizon’s 4G LTE network.

The phone now runs the new Android 4.0 operating system, and if you’re already an Android user, this may take some getting used to. Aside from some fun new features, like unlocking the phone by facial recognition, the new operating system does things a lot differently -- many better.

All keys are soft keys. The old double-tap of the home button, bringing up a (relatively useless, IMHO) mini view of the five available screens, is gone. The three clean keys at the bottom simply provide go back, home and a new recent apps key, bringing up the most recently closed apps. Very nice.

So you, or anyone you might hand your phone to, can see, in order, everything you’ve been doing. Want to delete one? Just swipe right on one, and it’s gone.

The button to open the list of apps, resembling the BlackBerry home key, opens the list of apps that now scroll horizontally rather than vertically, providing a much easier way to navigate if you have a large number of apps (guilty).

If you use screen shots in presentations, Android finally has a feature to match the iPhone, so if you hold down two buttons on the Galaxy Nexus at the same time, the current screen is saved.

There are countless changes in the new operating system, like widgets being moved to the app tray, NFC (near field communication) built in. Two similar phones back-to-back can exchange screen content with one tap and the Google search bar being displayed transparently on every main page, since the search button is excluded on the Galaxy Nexus.

Marketers will appreciate the increased screen real estate and the LTE speeds for faster video downloads. For anyone getting a first smartphone, especially during the holiday shopping season, starting with the Samsung Galaxy will be starting at mobile’s new state of the art.




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