One of the appeals of Google’s Nexus One is that it is the company’s vision of exactly what an Android handset should be. However, if you think that vision is the same worldwide you’re mistaken.
Google has hidden the Google Voice app on handsets shipped to the UK, and it looks like that’s the case for those shipped to Singapore and Hong Kong too.
Intriguingly, Voice appears to be installed on every Nexus One – it’s just that UK users are discovering that it’s not listed on the apps menu and a search of the device proves fruitless. However, try to install the app from the Android Market and the device will warn that version 0.3.0 of Voice is already installed.
The Google Voice telephone service isn’t available outside the US so it’s understandable that Google would want to avoid users overseas getting confused. However, it does mean that if you’re one of those people who have found a long, contrived and sneaky way of setting up a Google Voice account (or just set one up when you were in the States) you won’t get the reportedly excellent Google Voice integration that the Nexus One can provide.
It appears Google has mistakenly sent an American Nexus One to one UK customer, according to a support forum. That handset came fully equipped with the Voice app.
Some users are additionally claiming that their Nexus One can’t even install Voice from the Android Market, something that works on other Android handsets like the HTC Hero. While it can be downloaded, the button to open the app is greyed out. Strangely, I’ve just installed Voice on my Nexus One from the Android Market and opened it successfully in the UK, so there’s definitely some odd inconsistency here.
Rumour has it that Google is planning to unleash some kind of international version of Voice this year. We’re wondering if at that point Voice will be ‘magically’ un-hidden or if a firmware update will be required for international users.
UPDATE: Of course, we should add that Google Maps in-car navigation with voice instructions is missing from international versions of Android but that has been well known since the feature was announced. This Voice omission seems a little different as it appears to be Nexus One-specific.