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Google's Nexus One smartphone: Q&A

All you need to know: Google's Nexus One Android phone

• Will all Android phones get the 2.1 update?

Not necessarily. A Motorola rep confirmed that the Droid will definitely receive the upgrades. As for other Android models, it's too soon to say for sure.

An HTC rep indicated some HTC models will receive the 2.1 version. Google's Andy Rubin, however, explained that certain older Android handsets may not be able to support the full experience of the newer Android releases. He likened the scenario to an older PC trying to run a modern Windows release.

Google Nexus One Android smartphone speech

• How long till 2.1 rolls out for everyone else?

No firm dates have been announced so far. Google did confirm that the 2.1 update will be made available to everyone "within a couple of days." From there, it's up to each manufacturer as to if and when updates will officially be rolled out to devices.

• Anything different on the Nexus One?

There are a few little bells and whistles added into the hardware, but nothing mind-blowing. The front surface has a trackball that also functions as a multicolour status light. It also has a light sensor that can adjust the display based on the current room brightness, as well as an "active noise cancellation" system that allegedly helps cut down on background noise while you're on calls.

• What about multitouch? Any of that goodness?

Nope - and Google was cryptically quiet about why. The phone, like the Motorola Droid, does support multitouch as far as hardware. But the software doesn't natively allow for it.

With that said, a handy app called Dolphin Browser brings full multitouch browsing to the Android platform. It may not be integrated across the entire OS, but it does give you good pinch-and-zoom capabilities while surfing the Web (and the program has made leaps and bounds in quality since my initial review in November).

• Any official support for tethering?

Not yet, although Google vaguely indicated that's something it might look at for the phone in the future.

• Is the Nexus One really unlocked? Can I use it on any carrier?

It's complicated. In the US, you can currently buy the phone unlocked for $529 or with a T-Mobile contract and plan for $179.

As previously suspected, however, the unlocked version will only work on a GSM network - meaning only T-Mobile and AT&T within the US. And due to differences in 3G frequencies, you'd only be able to get EDGE-level data speeds while using the phone on AT&T. So, for all practical purposes, the phone really fully functions only on T-Mobile right now.

With that said, Google does plan to offer a separate version of the device this spring that'll be tied to Verizon (with a contract and plan). So multiple carriers? Yes. Fully unlocked and free reign? Not really.

• Can I buy it anywhere other than Google's Web site?

Not as of now - and that means stores won't have demo models for you to try out, either, according to Google's reps.

• So did Google lie to us when an exec said the company wasn't making hardware?

Technically, no - in fact, Google's Rubin addressed this during the Q&A following Tuesday's event.

"I was very precise," he stated. "I said Google wouldn't build hardware."

Looking back at the oft-quoted story, published at CNET last autumn, Rubin is correct. His exact quote: "We're not making hardware. We're enabling other people to build hardware."

Contrary to some early speculation, Google has made it abundantly clear now that the Nexus One was designed and built by HTC. "We're just merchandising it," one of the Google reps said.

Ready to read more?

Check out "Google's Nexus One: A First Look" for an image-driven tour of the new Nexus One phone.

And be sure to click over to "Master Google Android: 40 Tips and Tricks" for my in-depth guide to making the most of the Android experience.

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