Listen up, all you die-hard Google fans: Google tweeted last night that Android 2.3.3 would be zipping over-the-air to the Nexus One and as an incremental upgrade to the Samsung Nexus S, which launched with the Gingerbread build in December.
I could go on and on and make up some reason why this is a big deal, but it’s not. Google’s Nexus phones, which are developed sans carrier input, are essentially the company’s test units to see if new Android builds work.
Oh, they didn’t start that way. Google in January 2010 had every intention of watching the Nexus One get snapped up unlocked for $529 or $199 with a T-Mobile contract from its special Webstore, but that never happened.
What happened the following May was Android creator Andy Rubin gave up the ghost on the Nexus One because it didn’t sell well. Instead, it was relegated to the status of developer phone. Google still upgraded it, from Android 2.1 to Android 2.2 and now Android 2.3.
The Nexus S launched with Gingerbread a few months ago without any such pretense, though it does have native near field communications capabilities, which makes it cool.
NFC has gotten a boost in the Android 2.3.3 build for the Nexus S, which is like its predecessor available from T-Mobile or unlocked.
I suspect the Nexus S, too, will fail to sell and will join the Nexus One in Google’s high-quality class of developer phones.
But there is something interesting that did come with last night’s Android 2.3.3 bump. TechCrunch noted that Google removed the ability for Nexus S users who downloaded the Facebook app from Android Market to see Facebook contacts integrated with the Android Contacts app.
This strikes at the heart of the data portability issue Google and Facebook became embroiled in last fall.
Google essentially tweaked its Gmail Contacts Data API terms of service to bar third-party companies from automatically taking Gmail contact data without also allowing users to export contact data just as easily.
Google had Facebook in mind, accusing the social network of leaving users in a “data dead end” because it doesn’t allow users to move contact info in and out of the massive social network of 500 million-plus users.
And Google indeed told TechCrunch about its latest move with the Nexus S:
“We are removing the special-case handling of Facebook contacts on Nexus S and future lead devices. We continue to believe that reciprocity (the expectation that if information can be imported into a service it should be able to be exported) is an important step toward creating a world of true data liberation — and encourage other websites and app developers to allow users to export their contacts as well.“
By lead devices, I’ll take this to mean any Nexus devices because I’m sure carriers wouldn’t appreciate Google’s shrewd move, which threatens to leave users in the lurch if they leave Facebook.
Okay, so this borders on bitchy, but something had to make the Android 2.3.3 upgrade on Google’s Nexus line interesting.