I got to play with a Developer Android G1 on Sunday (Thanks Abraham!). It was an interesting experience and something totally different from the iPhone. Here is what I saw:
Layout – Slider screen The phone only slides the screen to reveal the keyboard. That leaves the button layout on the right side (in landscape mode) in the way. I was able to palm a button while working on it, which ultimately took me out of what I was doing.
The Keyboard I like slide out keyboards. That is why I am a big advocate of HTC phones. However, this keyboard was very hard to use. The keys were circular and not raised out as much as with my HTC. The circular keys were only about 2-3 millimeters in size. So you can easily miss in typing. The 2 thumb approach was a lot harder, whereas I was having an easier time with a 1 finger approach to the keyboard.
Touch Screen This might be where I am iPhone biased. It’s interesting, because I don’t expect multi-touch with my phone, yet I was really hoping the Android had some type of multi touch system. I could scroll around pictures and web pages, swiping my finger to the next page and everything. To zoom in/out, you have icons appear on the screen. While functional, the icons really got in the way of the experience and sometimes were hard to control (would zoom in/out too fast or not enough).
Response Besides the Zoom feature, the response of the phone was pretty good. I would press the icons on the screen and got to the program quick and easy. The web access was pretty good, too. We were using Wi-Fi for that and the loading was pretty good.
Camera I never expect a phone camera to be great, but I do expect todays phones to be adequate. The Android camera was no better than my camera phone in low light situations – And my phone has a flash (albeit not a great one). I would guess this camera will perform better in well-lit situations, but how many times will we be in a well-lit situation to take a picture?
Headphone Still no standard headphone jack on the phone – the 2.5 inch plug is there. You can get an adapter for it, but it does still get in the way. Someone needs to make a good, comfortable stereo headset so I don’t have to use headphones.
This, of course came in a 10-15 minute overview. The OS looks somewhat solid, but the phone needs some work. Lenovo is coming out with their Android powered phone soon, so we will see if there is a better experience down the road.
Unfortunately I said the magic phrase – I put expectation on the Android like it’s the iPhone. But it’s not. The iPhone has features that are either patented, or could soon be, so we will never see Android with them.
Hopefully there is someone out there that can think past that box and beat Apple to a punch or two with something that Android can possibly control. Of course, Patenting Open Source is an Oxymoron. Still, Android can do things that might make the experience better.
All in all, the phone was decent. I think it needs a little more work – Most of it coming from the phone rather than the OS. Once again, it was a 10-15 minute experience, but a good one nonetheless. I cannot wait for Android to be ready on more phones, I think within a couple years it could really be a great rival.