Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Google’s New Nexus 5 Is the Googley-est Phone Yet

Google’s latest flagship phone, the Nexus 5, runs on a new “launcher” app that unites the phone interface around Google services.

It’s kind of like how Facebook Home reshapes Android phones around Facebook services — but for Google itself.

The goal for the phone is to deliver “the right information, when you want it, at your fingertips,” said Android head Sundar Pichai.

That means deeper integration of the Google Now anticipatory personal assistant app — it’s now just a swipe to the left — and a persistent search bar on every screen of the phone.

There’s also “hot wording,” where phone users can say “Okay Google” to the always-listening phone at any time, and it pops into voice search mode. (This is just like the Moto X, Google-owned Motorola’s new flagship phone.)

“Search is when you ask us for something; Now is before you ask,” Pichai said. “But it’s the same problem, an information problem. We want to get to a world where you glance at your phone and it delights you with what you need.”

Another feature (and this one will be immediately available on other KitKat phones, as well, unlike the others) integrates Google’s local search into the Nexus 5’s phone contacts. So, if users want to call a restaurant, they can search for it within the phone address book and, rather than being taken to a Web listing, can make a call directly with the phone.

The Nexus 5 was built with LG and goes on sale today, unlocked and without a contract, in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and Korea. The 16 gigabyte version costs $349. It will be on Google Play, as well as through Sprint, T-Mobile, Amazon, Best Buy and RadioShack. It won’t work on Verizon. That’s a much larger-scale launch than the Nexus 4 had, Pichai noted.

The phone runs KitKat, or Android version 4.4. Besides all the Google stuff, it also has some special photography features. The phone’s camera includes a gyroscope in the lens that feeds information to an internal motor to stabilize images. And it includes HDR+ software that fuses multiple shots together to combat poor lighting conditions, and detects and isolates motion to avoid blur.

As for the specs, the slim phone weighs 130 grams, with a five-inch display and Gorilla Glass 3. There are no logos on the display, and the handsets come in both white and black.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik