The Mysterious Google Black Ball: Nexus Q

Google wants to enter your living room. As the first piece of consumer hardware Google has developed completely on its own, the Nexus Q represents Google’s grab for the center of your living space. Utilizing the cloud, the Nexus Q is billed as “the first social streaming media player” in that it is very friendly to multiple people using it at the same time in a socializing environment.

Google also thinks that the Nexus Q is an indication of the future. How right are they? To answer that question, we must first look at what exactly the Nexus Q does.

The Little Black Ball

The Nexus Q is a small, spherical, Android powered black device cut through the middle with a line of LEDs that make light patterns while in use. It is topped with a small light that serves as a mute button, with the upper half being turnable for volume controls. Without another Android device, this is all it does.

To control the device, you need an Android powered smartphone or tablet and the Nexus Q app. From initial set up to setting up music and movies to play from the cloud, the app is the primary way everyone will be interacting with the device.

The Nexus Q can handle multiple devices adding music in the queue, letting party guests pull music from their Google Play libraries to play on the host’s Q.


Looking beneath the surface, though, and the Nexus Q seems less than desirable. For one, if you are not invested in the Google ecosystem, then the Nexus Q will do nothing for you. You must own music and movies through Google Play in order to play them on the Q. Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and other third party services are completely off limits for the device. So, too, are files you have on your phone or tablet but do not have stored in Google’s cloud service.

Because of this, plenty of review sites have commented heavily on the fact that the Nexus Q costs more than most devices in its class while having less functionality. Some reviews were harsher than others, going into all the problems, large and small, that currently plague the Nexus Q, but most of them can be ironed out with updates.

The Future?

The device, as it is now, is not the future. At best, it is an expensive novelty item for people who have already “gone Google” with their media, work, and social interactions. At the same time, though, several aspects of what Google is trying to do here may well be ahead of its time.

Other companies are similarly going down the road of phone-centric designs. Apple allows its users to download an app to control the Apple TV with an iOS device, and Microsoft recently announced its Smartglass strategy that enables interaction between the Xbox and mobile devices. Google’s offering is unique with its concentration on the cloud and its local social capabilities, things that should please people once a few issues are ironed out.

The concept of the Nexus Q is definitely a glimpse of the future. The only real question to ask is whether or not Google is going to fully capitalize on this first or if another company, seeing the potential, will beat out Google and deliver a fully featured mobile and cloud centered device and takes the world by storm.


This article was written by Jonathan Martin for the team at coolblueweb.