Walt Mossberg

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More on the Nexus One

In reviewing Google’s new Nexus One phone, you said its memory is expandable to 32 gigabytes, but that the portion of memory used for storing apps is just 190 megabytes. Is the expandable memory unusable for apps? Is memory for apps expandable?

A: On the Nexus One, the Motorola Droid and other Android phones, there are two main types of memory: one internal, which is fixed, and the other external, in the form of removable memory cards, which the user can increase in capacity. In general, apps can be stored only in a small, restricted portion of internal memory, which on the Nexus One is a meager 190 megabytes. Although there are exceptions, apps can’t generally be stored on the roomier removable memory cards, though some files they rely upon, like graphics, can be offloaded onto the cards.

Google acknowledges this is a limitation, but says it designed the system to protect apps from being copied by merely removing the memory card and inserting it into a PC which could duplicate its contents. The company says it is working on ways to secure the memory cards to the satisfaction of the app developers, so that apps could be stored on them. Meanwhile, Android phones can’t hold nearly as many apps, especially sophisticated large apps, as some users might like.

AT&T and Verizon are each saying that they have wide areas of coverage. Can you tell me who really has the widest area of coverage for cellphone signals?

If you are comparing basic cellphone signal availability, each of the two leaders has a very wide footprint. However, Verizon claims a larger geographic footprint when it comes to 3G networks, which are currently the fastest widely deployed cellular data networks. AT&T claims its 3G is the fastest. But, partly because AT&T has the iPhone, which is both popular and makes heavy data usage very easy, its network too often seems overwhelmed in large cities, in my experience. Verizon so far lacks a specific phone with similar popularity which users employ to consume as much data, and thus network capacity, as iPhone users typically do. However, iPhone-class phones like the Motorola Droid and the Nexus One, if they sell well, will test the Verizon network’s robustness.

Any idea how well or badly the new Google Nexus One syncs with Macs for things like Calendars, Notes, Address Books etc.?

The Nexus One doesn’t come with software for syncing with computers, whether Macs or PCs. It is primarily intended to sync with online calendars and address books, not those stored locally on computers. It also lacks software for syncing even larger files, like music, photos and videos. Its method for transferring those files from Macs and PCs is to connect the phone via a USB cable, causing the phone to appear to the computer as an external hard disk. You then must manually drag and drop files onto the Nexus One’s icon. In other words, Google doesn’t supply any equivalent to Apple’s iTunes or the BlackBerry media-syncing software. However, the third-party program doubleTwist, available at doubletwist.com, is designed to function as a sort of iTunes for syncing Android, Palm and BlackBerry devices. It runs on Macs and PCs and even looks a bit like iTunes. But it only syncs media files, not calendars or address books.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online for free at the new All Things Digital Web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

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