23
Apr
802.11N Nexus One

The other day I was reading a great roundup of projected and wanted features in the upcoming Android 2.2 Froyo release, over at AndroidAndMe. The author, Taylor Wimberly, was going over what he thought was likely to be included next and then mentioned something about the Nexus One that instantly intrigued me. He said:

I spoke with Google’s Eric Tseng during CES and he told me there were many secrets left in the Nexus One that we would discover later.

Could it be that Google has loaded Nexus One with unactivated, hidden features, making the crowd favorite device into Pandora's box? Just when you thought you figured your little companion out inside and out, it turns into a mysterious stranger.

Nexus One With Wireless-N

The first such secret got uncovered when we found out that the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chipset Google and HTC put into the Nexus One is none other than the Broadcom BCM4329, which has hardware to support both 802.11n and FM radio. Google officially only supports b/g, as evident from the current specs.

Yesterday, Google and Broadcom released an updated version of the driver for Android, and in a flash, Cyanogen has been able to integrate it into his CyanogenMod ROM for the Nexus One, getting 802.11n running without a hitch.

802.11N Nexus One

In his reply to our tweet asking for clarification, Cyanogen pointed out that it's the following 2 changes by the Broadcom committer to the Android source tree that made this possible:

802.11N Nexus One

@kmobs, another Android developer quickly compiled CyanogenMod with the new changes and threw it up on his Nexus one in a quick video review:

So what does it mean to an average Nexus One user? You can wait for the latest official version of CyanogenMod to be released, flash your phone with it, and enjoy the new functionality (this is the beauty of custom ROMs for Android - quick turnaround time). Or if you don't want to flash a custom ROM, you can wait for Google to add support into the official Android version which make take any amount of time - possibly even months.

Nexus One With FM Radio

So if the Broadcom chip supports FM radio besides the 802.11n Wi-Fi, is there support for it seen somewhere on the horizon?

And before you say "who needs FM radio on a 3G phone?", consider how often you lose your 3G reception, how many people in other countries don't even have data plans, and how many stations don't broadcast online. Finally, if you are not convinced there is demand for FM radio on the phone, check out these 2 Google support threads full of users pleading for its support: thread 1, thread 2.

Neither Google nor Broadcom has made it clear yet whether they would be interested in supporting and enabling FM radio, so at this point we are unsure whether it would be coming. However, if we find out that the Droid Incredible, which already supports FM radio also sports the same Broadcom chip, it might not take Cyanogen or another ROM developer long to figure out how to take it out of one HTC phone and add it to another.

More Undiscovered Nexus One Secrets

What other undiscovered secrets can the Nexus One have in store for us?

Nexus One Video-Out

My first guess would be support for video-out, the same way the Droid Incredible supports it via a MicroUSB-HDMI adapter. Since Nexus One can play 720p video, there should be nothing but software stopping it from being able to support video-out.

We asked HTC for a more official response, and, as expected, it came back negative for now:

I understand how important it can be to receive information on using video out functionality on the HTC Nexus One. Unfortunate this HTC Device does not have the hardware or software to support the Video out functionality. Please keep updated on the support page for your Nexus One at www.htc.com/www to receive information on future updates or work a round for your HTC Device

No dice yet, but we're not losing hope.

What else do you think the Nexus One is hiding?

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • DrE

    I love my nexus I can't wait for flash tho