Now that Google has decided to delay the release of its media streaming device, the Nexus Q, to make it "better," we have some advice from unhappy reviewers for how Google could achieve that goal. When the orb came out in June, the expert techies didn't quite understand the device: The New York Times's David Pogue called it "baffling" and Gizmodo told readers not to buy it. The Verge rated it a 5 out of 10. It wasn't looking good for the Nexus Q. But now that Google has decided to revamp the Q, it can take these bad review lemons and make some tasty lemonade. Or, at least a streaming device that people want to buy.
1. Add More Stuff to Ingest
The Nexus Q lets users stream stuff through their TVs, which would be great, if Google didn't limit that content to Google Play's offerings and stuff on Google's cloud storage service. "That's it," laments The Verge's Bryan Bishop. "Any sideloaded music files are out of bounds unless you upload them to Google Music first, and subscription services like Rdio and Spotify are locked out altogether. It's the same story on the video side: Hulu and Netflix customers, you're out of luck," he continues. Play doesn't offer too much, either adds Pogue. "You can play videos from two online sources: YouTube and Google’s fledgling, poorly stocked TV and movie stores online," he writes. Pretty much ever reviewer mentioned this annoying situation with Endgadget's Tim Stevens relegating the device to pretty but with "limited functionality," ostensibly calling it useless.
2. Make it Cheaper
Not only does the Q offer fewer media choices than competitors, it costs a lot more. "A $299 price tag has me completely mystified," wrote Technology Review's Rachel Metz. For those dollars, the box better do more. And it doesn't, adds Pogue. "There are lots of boxes that connect to your TV and play music and video from the Internet: Apple TV, Roku and so on. They cost from $50 to $100. So what was Google thinking when it designed a machine that does about one-tenth as much — and costs $300?" Even SlashGear's Chris Burns, who found the device more useful than his peers, wasn't sure buyers would spend that much. "With this device you’ve got an Apple TV for nearly every single Android device on the market, and since it is a Nexus device, Google has in so many words encouraged us to hack it," je writes. "Will people buy it at $299? That’s a different story entirely."
3. The Marquee Social Sharing Feature Needs a lot of Work
Since the Q in Nexus Q stands for queue, a nod to its billing as the "world's first social streaming media player," Google needs to perfect that aspect of its product. Friends can share playlists, playing each others' music through the Q, which in theory, sounds useful. As of now, though, the system leads to what The Verge's Bishop calls "a frustrating game of accidental playlist-jacking." He explains:
While tapping on the options for a given song allows you to add it to the current song queue, selecting that same song directly will immediately begin playback, bypassing what's already in the queue. Even worse, if you're viewing a list of tunes in playlist, album, or artist sort, selecting one song will add it plus all subsequent songs to the queue.
On top of that, Google has added a lot of in between "spontaneity-killing setup," adds Pogue.
4. Fix the Bugs
So many bugs. Here's what Gizmodo's Brent Rose found, for example:
First off, the Q sometimes has trouble staying linked with the phone. Tested on two separate Qs, a phone, and a tablet, it had issues with every setup. The testing required factory resetting each Q at least once, then setting them up again. If you pause a movie for a while, and then you come back to it, it often won't start up again. You try to pair and unpair, you pull plugs—it's very frustrating. Also it's hard to scrub to the right timestamp in the movie. There are major delays when it starts up again.
Bishop said his movies didn't play very well. Stevens had to reset his after it showed up under a different owners name. Wired's Michael Calore, after 20 minutes of physical set-up, had to do a factory reset, too.
5. Make the Q App Available More Places
To work the Q, users need a device that is compatible with the Q app, which only works with Google's newest Android operating system. Annoying! "The Nexus Q requires an Android phone or tablet (version 2.3 or higher) to control it. That significantly limits the market of available buyers, although there's nothing stopping Google from rolling out an iOS or Windows Phone app later," noted CNET's Matthew Moskovciak. As for iOS compatibility, however, Rose calls that dream a long-shot.
Google, trust these guys, take at least some of their advice. They play with this stuff for a living. More importantly, all the early adopter nerd fans read them. Improve some of these glitches and we bet the reviewers' second pass will result in better reviews.