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Google introduces Nexus One

Google today officially unveiled its much-anticipated Nexus One mobile phone, which it hopes will give it an even bigger footprint in the mobile computing space.

The Nexus One, which is manufactured by Taiwan-based HTC from an all-Google design, is expected to compete with Apple's iPhone and continue the steady market adoption of Google's Android operating system.

To sell the phone, Google also launched its own Nexus One store. You can order the phone with a two-year T-Mobile plan for $179 or you can buy it "unlocked" for $529. (An unlocked phone is a phone that's not tied-in to any particular carrier. You can insert your own SIM card and get billed by your existing provider.) Google also plans to add a Nexus One with Verizon service sometime in the Spring.

Like a lot of smartphones, the Nexus One borrows its design mostly from the iPhone, although it is thinner and weighs an almost feather-like 4.69 ounces. The screen is a brilliant high-resolution 3.7 inches and incorporates four touch controls that get you to and from most of the phone's functions. Of course, being Google, one of the controls takes you straight to an Internet search box!

Other features include a noise-cancelling microphone for clearer conversation, and a 5 megapixel camera with an LED flash for both still photography and video.

When it comes to the software, two things set the Nexus One apart: speed and the ground-breaking voice recognition technology. Google understands that when it comes to electronic devices, the faster things run, the more people enjoy them…and talk about them! And the Nexus One is fast. Again, a lot depends on the network but, all things being equal, the Nexus One looks like the phone to beat when it comes to loading and switching between applications.

Perhaps the best feature on the Nexus One is its voice recognition capability. All of the text fields in the Nexus One's applications have been speech-enabled, allowing users to search, activate maps and even write e-mail messages by talking clearly into a microphone activated through the virtual keyboard.

Instead of loading up the Nexus One with tons of storage and memory, Google shows its commitment to "cloud computing". It's as if the software giant is saying "You type or speak your commands and we will take care of everything else". You want music? Stream it from the Internet. Pictures? Store them on Picasa. Video? That's what YouTube is for.

The Nexus One is the first in a series of phones that Google plans to develop with its manufacturing partners. Expect all of them to help Google with its long-term strategy – using the Android OS to open up mobile computing the way it used search and apps to open up the desktop. Nobody's betting against them!     

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