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Nexus One gets patched, censored, not sold at Wal-Mart

The Google Nexus One smart phone is getting a software update to help with 3G coverage, its speech recognition won't pass along swear words, and it's most definitely not coming to your local big-box.

By Andrew Heining / January 26, 2010

The Google Nexus One, seen here at its launch at the company's Mounatin View, Calif. headquarters, (not a Wal-Mart) is getting a 3G patch and turns a deaf ear to profanity.

Robert Galbraith/Reuters

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Is the Google Nexus One coming to a Wal-Mart Supercenter near you?

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Don't bet on it.

The Web was abuzz Tuesday when a page on a Wal-Mart mobile phone partner website listed the Nexus One as "coming soon." Was it too good to be true? Tech watchers stumbled all over themselves at the apparent news, as a Wal-Mart/Google partnership would fly in the face of Google's vaunted Web-only distribution model (and its accompanying frustrations).

Alas, it wasn't to be. Reached for comment, Wal-Mart spokesperson Ravi Jariwala wrote this in an email to the Monitor's David Grant:

"Sorry to disappoint but we have no plans to carry Nexus One in Walmart stores or online at Walmart.com at this time. Due to a technical error, this item erroneously was displayed on our site. We're working with our partner Let's Talk to have it removed as quickly as possible, and apologize for any confusion."

Patched at last

One thing the Nexus One is getting, however, is improved 3G performance. In a post on its Android support forums, a Google representative (also named Ravi, interestingly enough) writes:

Our engineers have uncovered specific cases for which a software fix should improve connectivity to 3G for some users. We are testing this fix now, initial results are positive, and if everything progresses as planned, we will provide an over-the-air software update to your phone in the next week or so. It may be, however, that users are experiencing problems as a result of being on the edge or outside of 3G coverage, which a product fix cannot address.

The post was in response to one complaining that the Nexus One just didn't connect as well to the 3G network as other phones. (The thread got so long – over 1200 posts – that Google started a new one to cut through the clutter.)

%#@*?

And speaking of clutter, Google's Nexus One does away with another kind – profanities. The handset's vaunted speech-to-text abilities reportedly don't play well with a few choice words. Try dropping salty language into a spoken command – the phone makes extensive use of voice command – and the Nexus One will replace your blue words with octothorpes – # or the pound sign for those unfamiliar with its other moniker.

Why won't the Nexus One let users express themselves unintelligently? A Google spokseperson told Reuters that the #### substitution is a protection against false positives. "We filter potentially offensive or inappropriate results because we want to avoid situations whereby we might misrecognize a spoken query and return profanity when, in fact, the user said something completely innocent."

The introduction of new interface technologies such as widespread voice-recognition no-doubt raises numerous issues, but here's our big question (and pardon our childishness): What if your friend's name is Richard?

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Leave your experiences with the Google Nexus One in the comments, and follow @CSMHorizonsBlog on Twitter for the latest on what we're following.

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