Columbus, Ohio

Google Android G1 Week 2 Review

So I’ve had this Google phone for 2 weeks and I must say that I’m very pleased with it. Unfortunately, I have not used a blackberry or an iPhone for 2 weeks, so I cannot fairly compare the phones. I can, however, point out the important features as well as the ergonomics of the phone that make this phone awesome.

Features That Rule!

The functionality and tight integration of the applications make this phone kick butt.

Gmail – Gmail works awesome on the phone. It has its own separate Gmail application which makes it easy to send and view Gmail messages. Since the phone is multi-threaded, everything works similar to how things work on a regular computer. For example, during the election I was following twitter on the phone and NBC4 Columbus put out a tweet asking for pictures of the lines at the voting booths. First I opened up Gmail, started a message. Then I turned on the camera, took a picture, closed the camera whcih brought me back to my message then quickly attached the image I just took and finished by clicking send. The whole process is pretty seamless.

Contacts – My contacts in Gmail and on the phone are all part of one single database of contacts. Anytime i add a new contact on the phone, it appears in Gmail. When I add a contact in Gmail, it appears on the phone. This is just one super powerful feature.

Calendar – I have a number of calendars. As expected you can view your calendar on the phone. What’s sweet is it also views all the calendars that are shared out to your Google Calendar. This means that the overlay of calendars from my work, personal and wife’s calendars appear in my phone. What’s even more awesome is how calendar events that have alarms configured set off the alarm in the phone. This whole calendar integration was very well thought out and Google deserves an A+ for this one.

Google Maps – This has already come in handy twice! Last week I was trying to find the West Marine store here in Columbus. When I mapped it at home, I thought the store was located on the west side of Sawmill road. When I drove over there and couldn’t find the store, I decided to re-map it in Google Maps on the phone. Though the point mapped did not indicate which side of Sawmill I needed to be on, it displayed the phone number for the business as a clickable number in the same way other numbers appear as contacts. I just clicked once and bam, the phone dialed West Marine and within seconds I was talking to someone who helped me find the store.

Dialer – The dialer application is what it is, the app that lets you dial numbers and contacts. This may be the first part of the phone that i could see vast improvement with. One cool feature though is how the Phone’s contacts can be filtered by groups. I setup a group in my Gmail contacts of people I call the most so those are the numbers that only appear in the main list of contacts in my phone. But don’t let this fool you, just because you only list contacts that are in a specific group does not mean the phone doesn’t recongize all of your contacts. It’s pretty tight phone in that regard.

Text Messaging – This works similar to Gmail, with each person you text listed as a separate thread. Nothing good or bad to say about it.

IM Client – It works pretty well and does the job.

Browser – The browser works pretty well. The coolest part of the browser is how it handles tabs. I like to open new links in a new tab, so all I do is hold my finger on the link for 2 seconds then a menu appears letting me open the link in a new tab. Moving between the tabs is pretty easy too. Sometimes I find myself in twitter in one tab and reading a blog in another. My only gripe so far is that you cannot perform file uploads from the browser. Not sure why this limitation is set but it is definitely something coded into the browser.

All around the default package of apps in this phone make this a very powerful tool for keeping in touch with others in all modern forms of communication.

Ergonomics Gets a C+

Though the phone is growing on me, it has some obvious ergonomic flaws. I pointed these out early on in my first blog post about the phone (click here) so I’ll just touch on them.

Ports, or lack there of – The position of the USB port sucks when you are texting. Though so far I have not found a need to have headphones plugged in while I am texting I can foresee that this will be a problem when I’m using the phone as both an mp3 player and as a phone. The lack of portion options also limits this phone. Had they just put a headphone jack along the right side of the phone then I’d be a happy camper. Then I could listen to music while texting without the plug getting into the way of my hands.

Camera – The camera has absolutely no options which sucks. Since it’s a camera phone, I’d like to set the picture quality a little lower so the files are smaller for sending in email. One other complaint is the delay when clicking the picture button and when the picture is actually taken. You absolutely cannot take a crisp picture with this phone holding it with just one hand. I am getting used to it but boy my last phone had a 1 Megapixel camera and took pictures much faster than this one.

3rd Party Apps

SSH Client – Okay, the average person would not even care about this but being a programmer and network administrator this feature is awesome. The application is called ConnectBot. It’s a petty simple SSH client. Though it is a bit painful to use with a texting keyboard compared to a regular keyboard, it does the job. I haven’t had to use it in a practical sense yet but if I am ever out of town and away from a computer I still have a way to connect to one of our rack servers and fix a critical problem through the shell. Extremely powerful tool in my opinion.

Twitter – There is a pretty good Twitter app for Android called  Twidroid. It works pretty well. The only feature that it lacks is a screen of public @ replies. Otherwise it works pretty well.

Pac Man – Yea, who doesn’t like old Atari games.

Others – I’ve installed an app for calculating tips at restaurants, an app which lets me use the camera to scan bar codes at stores to search other stores for comparable pricing and a weather plugin to easily obtain the current, hourly, 3 day and 10 day forecasts.

Overall Opinion

This is a great tool. I no longer want to refer to this as a phone as it is much more than that. I now know why so many people love their Blackberry’s or iPhone’s, these multi function devices let you do so much. However, they will never replace a computer, that is for sure. If anything, these devices could bridge the gab for the need for laptop computers. I am sure it will not be long before I hear about folks going back to desktop computers because their phone does everything they need when they are out of the office. I also predict that in a year or so we will see Android based laptop and desktop computers. I don’t see any reason why Google would not do this, as this would complete the gamut of needs for the average person and business as far as computing is concerned. Apple took OSX to the phone and I am certain Google will take Android from the phone to the desktop. Time will tell if I’m right.

6 Responses

  1. Thanks for the reviews! It sounds like there’s a lot to love about Android, but maybe not so much about the G1 itself. Personally, I’d like to wait for a future Android-based phone, but I may need a smartphone sooner than that.

  2. In reference to the long wait to take photos, try using it like a real digital camera. Hold the button down half way, wait for it to beep, and then push it down the entire way when you’re ready to take a pic. I noticed that this really seems to speed up the process. I was annoyed at first but the delay wasn’t too bad once I learned how to properly take a picture. The problem is that the G1 has a REAL focus instead of a fixed focus like most camera phones. So, when you push the button down it actually has to move the lens and focus the shot. This is what causes the delay. Let me know if that helps.


  3. I keep reading your reviews about the G1 and am half tempted to go get one. I want to try out Android really bad, but I’m glued to my Apple products. My iPhone 3G does exactly what I want it to do and the new interactive games that continue to come out for the iPhone are continuing to push me toward keeping it and NEVER ever getting rid of it. 🙂

  4. I was well psyched abut the calendar synch’ing w/ google cal, but it appears to me that the G1 could not display the most useful view of google cal – the week view with appointments blocked out geographically.

    The iphone can’t do this week view of iCal either. This is the dealbreaker for me. Am I the only one bothered by this?

    thanks for the review.

  5. What do you mean by geographically? You mean it displays a map where your scheduled appointments are located? What software do you use that does that currently? Sounds neat but doesn’t sound like the easiest way to navigate your calendar based on geographical location. What calendar application lets you do this?

    Google Does have a month view (see example at 24 seconds in this video: in the G1 and it displays a vertical level of color within the day of the month where events are scheduled. Because the screen is so small, you sometimes only see 1-2 blips of the color, but it is enough to give you an idea who’s calendar it is (based on the color) and if it’s in the morning, middle or evening of the day. The phone screen is just too small to really see anything else and you’re going to have this limit with any phone.

    I think what’s truly powerful of the Calendar in Android is how it displays all the calendars you have added to your Google Calendar Account. It is great to see my calendar along with my work and wife’s calendars.

  6. “calendar events that have alarms configured set off the alarm in the phone”
    this sounds interessting. i only get a reminder (=a single “pling”) for every .. ahm .. reminder that i set in the calendar.

    furthermore i miss copying of events
    i think the day and week views are terrible because they require scrolling

    so generally i think the calendar app sucks big time and is one of the biggest negative points in my G1. (my 6 year old (!!!) sonyericsson p800 was way better!)

    but then again i might be just too stupid to use it correctly 🙂

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