The T-Mobile G1 'Google phone' is a tweaker's delight
- — 17 October, 2008 08:30
The G1, the first phone to run Google's Android software, includes a touch screen and a slide-out Qwerty keyboard.
Hardware and Software Integration: As with Apple's iPhone and its software, the integration of the G1's hardware with the Android software is crucial. Here, both the phone and Android shine: Thanks to its trackball and its slide-and-glide gesture-capable touch screen, the G1 had particularly intuitive and smooth ergonomics. Displays behaved as my fingers seemed to expect them to--except that I couldn't swipe left-to-right to scroll through pictures in my photo library, as I could with an iPhone 3G. The touch screen was usually highly responsive, but sometimes when I'd touch a hypertext link in the browser, I had to press twice for it to take. I liked being able to use my finger to drag open the Notifications status to see additional details about incoming text, instant, voice, and e-mail messages; and calendar events.
As the first Android device, the G1 teems with potential, and exploring the new interface is fun. Google's own clean, simple Web design has clearly informed much of Android's interface--and how you interact with the applications. You can tweak and customize everything, either through the deep and varied Settings options or through suitable apps.
The opening home screen consists of a myFaves icon at the upper left, an analog clock icon in the middle, and four primary applications: Dialer (also known as the phone), contacts, browser, and maps. Hold your finger down on an app, and the phone will vibrate once and release the icon so that you can move it to another spot on the screen.
Swipe your finger to the right, and the wallpaper continues onto a second home screen, with a Google search bar permanently fixed at its top. Press or drag the tab at the bottom of the screen (in vertical orientation; in horizontal orientation, the tab shows at right) to reveal the other applications. The icons, arrayed in rows of four, will include all of your applications. Apps are arranged alphabetically; the icons are smaller and slightly less distinctive than on the Apple iPhone, but they're comparable to what you'd see on a Palm OS or BlackBerry OS device. Hold your finger down on an icon to duplicate the icon on the home screen.
The phone has both assisted GPS and GPS. The Google Maps app built-in uses both, but in my casual tests in San Francisco, it didn't exhibit the same level of accuracy in picking up my location as an iPhone 3G's Google Maps app did.
At launch, the G1 doesn't support the stereo Bluetooth profile, according to T-Mobile; however, the phone may support stereo Bluetooth at some future time.