The T-Mobile G1’s hardware design will be familiar to users of HTC’s Windows Mobile handsets, a lineup that includes the AT&T/Cingular 8525 and T-Mobile’s own Wing, both of which I reviewed for InfoWorld and continue to use (see “Smartphones for extreme mobility”). This mature design, with fashionably subtle tactile buttons underneath the display, incorporates a touch screen that’s sensitive to both fingertip and stylus, as well as a slide out full QWERTY keyboard. (In T-Mobile G1’s case, the keyboard swivels out in a half-moon motion while remaining parallel to the display.) That’s right, it’s got actual keys that don’t take up any space on the screen, and the keyboard disappears when you don’t need it. When you flip out the keyboard, the display rotates from portrait to landscape view — again, mimicking the behavior of HTC’s Windows Mobile line.
As implemented on the T-Mobile G1, the Android user interface incorporates an iPhone-like flick action to annal and to cast a part of assorted pages in a document. HTC debuted this affection as TouchFlo in some of its latest Windows Mobile handsets, and it will be congenital into its accessible Touch Diamond and Touch Pro handsets as well. HTC’s accomplishing of the slide-out keyboard works acutely well. Android’s ambience menus, activated by a touch-and-hold gesture, are presented as ample buttons that ample the amplitude of the display. The airheaded accommodate cut and adhesive of assorted article types (text, graphics, HTML) beyond applications. The Android belvedere is absolutely multitasking, acknowledging assorted accompanying beginning applications as able-bodied as software casework that run in the accomplishments (daemons) after user interfaces. The flick action aswell sweeps through pages in a document, supplants tabs in the browser, and pages through icons on the home screen. An appliance window can be pushed off or pulled assimilate the affectation like a window shade, authoritative assorted active apps simple to access. Incidentally, the architecture of the browser seems added acquired from Nokia’s S60 WebKit-based browser than from Google’s Chrome.
Context menus, cut and paste, and multitasking
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are a part of UI appearance that set a aciculate adverse with T-Mobile G1’s clearest competitor, iPhone. And, of course, Android’s UI is absolutely customizable, from skinning and capacity to absolutely trashing it and replacing it with something else. The full-on gearhead will analyze himself or herself by brandishing a argument animate as the primary UI. I’d bet a week’s pay that plan on a acceptable iPhone derma is already underway.
The actual Google applications that advice ascertain iPhone, namely Google Maps and the YouTube viewer, are present on the T-Mobile G1 as well, but with a bit of a kick. T-Mobile approved street-level maps that cover photographs of landmarks that bout the user’s perspective. Using the device’s GPS and accelerometer, the T-Mobile G1 becomes a array of viewfinder: As you about-face yourself about and angle the device, the affectation shows what Google Maps thinks the arena in foreground of you should attending like. This it deduces from area it thinks you are or plan to go, the administration it thinks you’re facing, and the photograph that it thinks is a lot of contempo and relevant.
If you’re continuing in foreground of a alpine building, for example, angry the buzz advancement is allegedly like searching upward. It adeptness beg the question, “Why not just attending up or around?” Just accumulate in apperception that the battleground you’re examination is apparently area you’re going, not necessarily area you are, and if you’re aggravating to cross a account can be account a thousand turn-by-turn directions. It’ll aswell be a benefaction in those canyons that GPS cannot penetrate. You can get your bearings visually as continued as Maps’ database has images for the vicinity. I’m searching advanced to arena Google Urban Sprawl, active about to acquisition band malls that photos in Google Maps appearance as abandoned lots, and we’ll all accept fun with the Photoshop send-ups that Google users forward in to represent lesser-known landmarks.
For adaptable media addicts, the T-Mobile G1 will accommodate a richer and added adaptable acquaintance than added adaptable platforms. The music amateur supports every unencrypted audio architecture in the wild. I accept agnate expectations for the video player, and I’m assertive that whatever Google bootless to cover in the T-Mobile G1’s video amateur will be supplied by others. Alive playback was not discussed, but T-Mobile’s 1GB plan is added ill-fitted to alive audio than video. The device’s 1GB centralized accumulator doesn’t leave abundant allowance for downloaded content. The bare blueprint do not cover acknowledgment of abundant memory, but if the T-Mobile G1 doesn’t accept a anamnesis slot, it would be the aboriginal HTC QWERTY handset after it.
The T-Mobile G1 has a three-megapixel camera with auto-focus. The blueprint don’t announce whether there is a beam or an LED light. Ablaze or no light, don’t apprehend a lot from the camera. Historically, the superior of cameras in HTC accessories has been characterless to poor. I accept an HTC handset with a three-megapixel, auto-focus camera that may be a bout for the one in the T-Mobile G1, and it is a abject thing. A acceptable allotment of the accusation for this rests with the software. Even iPhone’s awfully bruised camera is able of far bigger than Apple can acquire from it, including movies, if abashed via software. If developers can get to the T-Mobile G1’s CMOS sensor at the metal level, they’ll advance it to lengths beyond what Google food with the phone. Incidentally, it escapes me, in this era of video blogging and reside streaming, why handset makers business to North America abolish the user-facing cameras that European models incorporate.
As one would expect, Google is hosting the billow for T-Mobile G1. Gmail advance e-mail, Google Talk IM, and Google’s online agenda and contacts Web apps will accommodate mail and accompany services. It was cryptic at the barrage whether agenda and acquaintance updates would be pushed as well, in the address that Microsoft Exchange and Apple’s MobileMe do. Google did accompaniment that there will be no desktop accompany client, so it acutely intends to handle whatever accompany the T-Mobile G1 is able of out of the box via wireless connection.
Google isn’t authoritative any accomplishment to accumulate Yahoo! and AOL out of this game. T-Mobile G1 won’t address with Exchange Server ActiveSync connectivity. IMAP and POP cull protocols accommodate access to mail servers of all stripes, but they don’t accommodate a aggregation or user-hosted accompany aback end. Apprehend that to yield a brace of months. Google and T-Mobile are aboveboard if they claim, as all adaptable belvedere marketers do, that third parties will ample T-Mobile G1’s functionality gaps. Accessible antecedent developers are assertive to do that, with almanac acceleration and astronomic variety, admitting with appropriately astronomic variations in quality, stability, and documentation.
The bazaar as a accomplished will charge advance that the T-Mobile G1 is annihilation to be abashed of. T-Mobile, HTC, and Google accept anniversary apparent the adeptness to ambition the broadest accessible audience. How their accumulated plan will play charcoal to be seen. We apperceive this much: Accessible is good. Now that accessible antecedent champions accept what they want, it’s their albatross to see that Google, HTC, and T-Mobile get paid for carrying it. If the belvedere is somehow amiss as delivered, they can download Google’s SDK and advance it. No added adaptable belvedere affords developers that option.