Google used to have “launch partners” to help it show off a new operating system or new platform. Motorola showed off its XOOM tablet, Logitech showed off its Google TV set top box. After that, Google leaned more toward Nexus devices to show its new features, rather than its traditional “launch partner” approach.
Many of us in the tech industry mused about the potential (albeit remote) of multiple Nexus devices in each category (smartphone, 7-inch tablet, and 10-inch tablet), perhaps even the flagship smartphone from every top-tier manufacturer, being made available for sale unlocked, directly from Google. Some laughed at us, but we held out hope. Then, at this year’s Google I/O we were shown a treat.
By now the Google Edition of both the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One are confirmed — we just have to wait a little longer to be able to buy them. We could bask in our happy bliss that the trend that we hoped for is finally reaching fruition, but there are some drawbacks. Let’s take a look at some of the trade-offs you’ll be making if you opt for the Google Edition of the HTC One rather than HTC’s own version.
This one is easy, so let’s get it out of the way first. The Google Edition devices cater to power users and developers. To help fill that niche before it had made the move to offer a Google Edition of the HTC One, HTC offered a “Developer Edition” of the phone, complete with an unlocked bootloader and 64GB storage.
The Google Edition keeps the flexibility with the bootloader, but sheds the larger storage capacity for 32GB. While that’s certainly not small, it’s a bit frustrating that the Google Edition tops out at half the storage capacity of the Developer Edition.
It’s worth noting that Google’s own Nexus 4 it only available in 8 and 16GB varieties.
Stock Android doesn’t know what an IR Blaster is. Honestly, we were a bit surprised to see a comeback of the relatively slow-speed port, but since everyone has a TV and stereo at home, building the port back in makes sense from an automation standpoint.
Since Android itself doesn’t include any IR functionality out of the box, if you want to use your IR port you’ll need to head to the Play Store and download an app to make use of it.
Beats Audio & FM Radio
Beats Audio is part hardware and part software that some say makes your music and movies sound amazing. The hardware part will still be present in the Google Edition of the phone, but the software will not. To some this may be a big deal, to others it won’t matter.
HTC usually re-purposes of a feature in its GPS chips to give users FM radio capability using their headphones as the FM antenna. It’s a pretty cool idea, and works pretty well in practice — but although the hardware will still be present, the software to actually listen to FM radio won’t be included in the Google Edition of the phone.
It should go without saying that the Google Edition of the HTC One won’t come with the Sense UI. Along with that, BlinkFeed won’t be included either.
Some questions about the UltraPixel camera have been raised. The Sense camera UI isn’t going to be present on the Google Edition, neither are Zoe, Highlights, or the living gallery. UltraPixel functionality, however, should work just fine within the stock Android camera UI.
Speaking of the regular Android Camera, the Google Edition of the HTC One will include panorama, Photo Sphere, and the ability to take still pictures while shooting video, just like every other smartphone featuring the “pure” Android camera.
The HTC One has a somewhat unusual button layout at the bottom of the screen. Officials from HTC have gone on the record regarding their button layout: it won’t be changing on the Google Edition. What’s more, soft buttons would be redundant so we’re not likely to see a double-stacked button bar.
What do you think of the HTC One Google Edition?
In the meantime, what do you think? Are the trade-offs of a pure Android experience worth the HTC value-adds? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Oh, and since we’ve still got a little time before the HTC One Google Edition hits the virtual shelves. If you just can’t wait, Pocketnow’s Taylor Martin recently showed us how to make your current HTC One as close to a Google Edition as possible without the wait!
Later on, it may also be possible to turn a carrier-branded HTC One into a “real” Google Edition. Time will tell.