Nexus S in Space

On the last US Space Shuttle mission, STS-135, part of the Atlantis payload carried to the ISS were two Nexus S phones. The Nexus S is being used to record sensor data and capture video footage on SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites), a miniaturized satellite.

You can download the Open Source sensor data logging application, Cellbots’ Sensor Data Logger, in the Android Market and do something with it.

QR Code for Cellbots' Sensor Data Logger

Google Video Chat on the Nexus S

Last Thursday, Google announced video chat for Android with Google Talk. “Google Talk with video and voice chat will gradually roll out to Nexus S devices in the next few weeks as part of the Android 2.3.4 over-the-air update.” apogee82, over a, posted a link to the file for a manual update.

The file in that link is only for Nexus S phones upgrading from build number GRI40 – stock Android 2.3.3.

For the manual upgrade I did the following:

  • Download the file, rename it and copy it to the root directory of the sdcard storage
  • Reboot the phone into the bootloader by holding the volume up button while pushing the power button
  • Use the volume down button to highlight recovery and push the power button to select
  • You’ll see a triangle with an exclamation mark in the center. Hold the power button and then press volume up and use the volume key to select “apply update from /sdcard” and press the power button.

Video chat works OK over WiFi. I haven’t tried it on a 3G connection yet. The Google Mobile Blog post says, “You can make calls over a 3G or 4G data network (if your carrier supports it).” I’ve read a couple of anecdotal posts that said it didn’t work on T-Mobile 3G.

Another improvement with the Android 2.3.4 update is that it seems to help the GPS in the Nexus S. The last time I used GPS Status and Toolbox, it took about two seconds to acquire a fix.

Nexus S and the Apple Wireless Keyboard

When I bought a Samsung Nexus S in December, I had problems using the Android keyboard because I have big fingers. They aren’t the sausages I remember when I shook George Duvivier‘s hand, but they’re big.

Inevitably, when I used the keyboard in the portrait mode, a key press would often result in a mistyped letter. I thought a Bluetooth keyboard would help with this problem and I miraculously received one for Christmas.

Nexus S

The Apple Wireless Keyboard follows Apple’s design aesthetic, which I happen to like (in spite of the Macintrash category I use on this blog).

I thought it would be a simple task to pair the two Bluetooth devices, but for several months, I was unable to find a suitable IME app that would work. You would just think it would work, but it didn’t. Last December, I tried Teksoft’s BlueInput demo and Elbrain’s BlueKeyboard JP. Neither of them worked at the time – I couldn’t get the keyboard to pair with the phone.

I don’t know if it was the Gingerbread update to 2.3.3 or an update to BlueKeyboard JP, but the last time I tried to connect them, the Nexus S and the Apple Wireless Keyboard started working together. I did the following:

On the phone, turn on Bluetooth – “Settings/Wireless Networks/Bluetooth

  • Power on the Apple Wireless Keyboard
  • If the keyboard isn’t listed under “Bluetooth devices” select “Scan for devices
  • Once the phone finds the keyboard, it will display “Paired but not connected” under the device name
  • Under “Settings/Language & keyboard “check “BlueKeyboardJP
  • Under “Settings/Language & Keyboard” select “BlueKeyboardJP settings
  • Check “Connecting Process
  • Selected keyboard” should have the Bluetooth keyboard’s name checked

Finally, open an app that uses text input. Touch and hold (long press) in the text box until “Edit text/Paste/Input method” pops up. Select “Input method” then select “BlueKeyboard JP.” In the Status bar, next to the Bluekeyboard JP notification icon, it will say, “Connecting….”

Apple Keyboard

Elbrain’s documentation for Bluekeyboard JP shows that the notification icon changes color for three different states – Disconnected, Connecting and Connected. It’s very subtle.

I’m currently using version 2.16 of Bluekeyboard JP, which has ads displayed at the bottom of the screen. Since I got Bluekeyboard JP working, I thought I’d use the paid version, which has a user dictionary, but the comments in the Android Market for BlueKeyboard Pro JP say that the paid version also has ads.

Update: I just installed Teksoft’s BlueInput demo 1.8 and it also works, pretty much the same as BlueKeyboard JP.

A Nexus S Case

I bought a Samsung Nexus S the day it was released, last December 16. Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) gives the Nexus S considerably more functionality than the last phone I bought, though it costs about 26 times more.

The only other thing I wanted for the phone was a silicone case. I ordered the Amzer Silicone Skin Jelly Case on December 17, 2010 and it finally shipped January 6, 2011.

The case covers the side and the back of the Nexus S with clean cutouts on the back for the camera, flash and speaker. The bottom of the case has cutouts for the headphone jack and charging port. On the side of the case, there are raised bumps for the volume and power switches that work OK.

There is a slightly raised edge around the front of the case, which allows for putting the phone face down on a flat surface without concern about scratching the front. The Amzer case will provide scratch protection for the back and sides of the phone and a certain degree of impact protection, though I don’t really feel like testing that capability.

The case is available in eleven colors: black, gray, transparent white, hot pink, purple, maroon red, blue, orange, green and baby pink…

Update July 20, 2011: I have since switched to the Incipio Feather case because I found that the Amzer silicone case made it difficult to pull the phone from my pants pocket. The Incipio case is a hard shell but with a soft touch coating that won’t scratch the phone and is much easier to put in and take out of my pocket. I have even dropped the Nexus S in the Incipio case from 4 feet onto concrete with no damage.