I’ve been hoping to try out Google Buzz, but it hasn’t hit my Gmail account yet and it won’t run on my phone*…even though it’s a web app. Comments at Android and Me and at Mashable show that I’m not alone.

It turns out that Buzz uses HTML5 features (specifically appcache, database and location) to store local data and to detect your physical location…and those capabilities were added in Android 2.0.

The support thread mentions that they are “working on another version that will make Buzz for mobile accessible on older Android OS versions (and some other smartphones as well).” The browser in Android 1.6 and below supports similar capabilities through Gears, so they may be planning a Gears-based workaround.

This would be a lot less of an issue if it weren’t for the fact that most of the Android phones out there still run 1.6 or even Android 1.5. IIRC only the Droid and Nexus One have officially been updated to 2.0 so far**, so unless you have one of those two models, you’re more likely to get Buzz to run on an iPhone than Android.

Funny, that.

*I’ve got a G1. It can only access Buzz through the updated Maps app, which brought up a bunch of people in nearby office parks posting things like “Testing Buzz” and “WTF is Google Buzz?”

**A few other phones have had updates announced, but I don’t think any have actually shipped yet. I could be wrong.

So, Google has announced the Nexus One phone. Let’s see how it stacks up against what I want in my next phone:

  • Mainstream Android (i.e., not overcustomized like Motoblur)? Check.
  • Faster than what I’ve got (a G1)? Check.
  • More memory & storage? Check.
  • Better camera? Check.
  • Longer battery life? Check.
  • Less clunky? Check.
  • Available on my current provider? Check.

Sounds great!

Only one problem: there’s no keyboard. Android’s on-screen keyboard is decent enough, but I’m not quite ready to give up that physical keyboard just yet. (OTOH, I don’t want the Droid. I played with the keyboard a little at Best Buy a couple of weeks ago, and really didn’t like it.)

I’ll have to practice with the virtual keyboard on the G1 some more. If I can get used to it, this might be worth the upgrade.

I tried out Google’s new Goggles app. Basically it lets you use the camera on an Android phone to do an image-based search. The examples include landmarks, book covers, artwork, logos, contact info, and places.

So I played with it for a bit at home tonight. It’s good at picking out book covers and logos, if you’ve got good lighting and a clear image. 50-50 at landmarks, at least when taking pictures of my monitor. In a couple of cases, it actually picked out the exact photo as a match. It’s not so good at objects, even obvious ones like a Coke can. I’ll have to try it out in the real world next.

Okay, I get it. By buying the first device of its kind (i.e. an Android-powered smartphone), I’m an early adopter. In a sense I was helping out in a massive public beta as Google, mobile phone carriers, and handset manufacturers worked out the kinks in the design and realized things like, “Oh, we really do need more memory than that, don’t we?”

But it’s still annoying to read the early reports that Android 2.0 “Eclair” won’t fit on the G1.

We have done this dance before, when rumors surfaced that the G1 wouldn’t be able to handle Android 1.6 “Donut.” Fortunately, engineers managed to squeeze it into the space available, and T-Mobile sent out Donut as an OTA (over the air) update to MyTouch and G1 devices alike. But I’ve had time to think about the issue, and my thoughts basically come down to this:

  • New software eventually reaches a point when it can no longer support old hardware. You can’t run Snow Leopard on a G4 or Windows 7 on a Pentium II.
  • When the hardware is usually tied to a fixed-term service contract (in this case, 2 years), the provider really ought to fully support it for the length of that contract. The G1 launched 1 year ago with (in most cases) a 2-year contract.
  • Even if this is the last major update, my phone is still better now than it was when I bought it.

It will be very nice if history repeats itself, and Google and/or T-Mobile finds a way to cram Eclair onto the G1. Even if it means dropping the convenience of OTA updates and instead requiring you to download it to a PC and update over a USB cable. More likely, though, they’ll freeze the G1 on Android 1.6 except for bugfix and security updates, and it’ll be up to unofficial distributions like cyanogen to bring a newer OS to the older phone.

Because I don’t really want to mess with rooting my phone and installing a third-party distribution, if this is the end of the line for the G1, well…Android 2 has some really nice features that I’d really like to be able to use, but nothing that screams “must have!” The only real worry I have at this point is that app developers might start requiring newer versions of Android.

The other option: buy a newer phone. I’ll probably want to do that anyway in a year or so, but I’m not there yet. It still feels like I just got this one.

Update (February 26): It turns out the G1 will get Android 2.1 after all, but will probably require wiping the phone. That makes sense, because it would allow developers to reassign some of the space set aside for over-the-air updates and use it for a larger system instead — and maybe more space for apps.