Friday, 14 November 2008

T-mobile G1 – The first of the Google Android Phones. Part 4

Web Browsing

My experiences with mobile web browsing have come in several forms, the obligatory laptop, the stripped down mobile and the seriously slick iPod Touch/iPhone. Of all of them so far my favorite has to be Apples implementation. It's simple, fast and instantly intuitive. In my personal opinion this is the standard that Android and the G1 was competing with. Has it succeeded? Lets take a look.

The first thing you notice is that the web pages are generally presented in the manner that you expect from PC browsing or from the iPhone browser with the exceptions of sites that offer a stripped down version like

Hitting the menu button will open the browser options. Go to URL, Search, Bookmarks, Window, Refresh and under More: Close Page, Forward, History, Downloads, Page Info, Bookmark Page, Share Page, Zoom and Settings.

Under Settings there are a myriad of options including popup blocking, Turn off image loading, Enable/Disable Javascrip, Open new windows in the background and the ones you come to expect from a browser like cookie management and cache clearing.

As with the Apple browser you navigate around the page by dragging a finger. When you interact with the screen the Zoom buttons automatically come up and clicking on them will produce the expected result. It's this function that I find a little clumsy when compared to the multi touch of the Apple devices and after having used them I still find myself pining a little for the naturally intuitive fingers out, fingers in process of zooming.

There is a second way of working your way around a web page and that is by clicking on the cross arrows in the bottom right of the screen. This maximizes the web page so that you can see almost all of it and provides you with a magnifying square which can be dragged around the page and then released when you are satisfied that this is what you want to view.

The Android browser also has a version of tabbed browsing that is accessed via the Window option. This opens a screen that displays the pages that you currently have open.

When the phone is flipped onto it's side and opened it will give you the option to add another page. I think since the last update There is now the same option when the orientation is vertical.

You can change the orientation of the browser without opening the phone by going into the Menu then the More submenu and selecting 'Flip Orientation'. This is a clumsy and counter intuitive method of using the browser interface especially considering that the phone has a fully functional accelerometer. Hopefully this will be addressed in later OS updates.

The browser has some great functionality however it does need some streamlining. The G1 touchscreen interface does lend itself to a fairly pleasant browsing experience as does the keyboard. Small things like the screen orientation responding to the accelerometer and perhaps a different way of zooming the screen would make the experience a little more intuitive.

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