Tuesday, 11 November 2008

T-mobile G1 – The first of the Google Android Phones. Part 3

I'll start off first with the basic Android phone functionality.

The phones interface is predominantly touch screen with any text input or search functions using the keyboard. There are two ways to select an option or 'click' that is a short click or a long click. The long click either allows you to move an icon for repositioning or brings up a contextual menu. Long clicking on the Home screen backdrop opens up a menu with the options to add an application, shortcut, widget or to change your wallpaper.

As I mentioned in Part 2 sliding the screen open re-orients the screen sideways. This is fairly logical but I have found many times that I would like to have been able to tilt the phone without opening the keyboard. The G1 hardware has the full gamut of accelerometers the same as the Apple iPod and as such this functionality may well be enabled in a later update.

Making a phone call.

The phone has four different menus in the calling option. The first is the dialer that can be accessed directly via the icon on the home page or indirectly by using the keyboard to start typing in a name of the contact you wish to dial.

The second is a historical method using the call log which works in the expected manner. The Third is via the Contacts list and the fourth through the favorites list.

The first of my gripes with the calling system is an inability to assign fast dials to the numbers. Holding down the 1 button will fast dial your voicemail so clearly the capability is there however at this early stage there is no facility for assigning your contacts to a number. Developers have created a nice little app called Anycut that among other things allows you to place fast dials onto your Home screen but it would be nice if there wasn't the need for a work around.

The Contacts list is in my opinion fairly well constructed. You can drag up and down to browse through the list of names, if you need to move a bit more rapidly you can use a tab on the right hand side that then displays the alpha fields as you move through them.

Clicking on a contact will then take you into the contact details and from there you can choose to Call them by either clicking on the phone number listed or hitting the dial button. From the same screen you can call any alternative numbers, email, SMS or see their online status of things like Google Talk, MSN or Yahoo Chat.

Long clicking on a contact (i.e. hold your finger on it) will bring up a menu giving you similar options as are available by clicking in but also allows you to delete them and add them to your favorites list. This is another issue that I have with the first version of this software, if you add a contact to your favorites list they are no longer in your normal contacts list. I find this frustrating as really you end up using one or the other - you shouldn't have to search through both.

The call quality on the G1 is excellent as is the reception of the handset and I'm hoping that the open nature of Android will lend itself to applications like Skype being added as it's permanently connected to the Internet.

SMS is also very straight forward and is as simple as either hitting reply to a message or going into your contacts and selecting SMS. The keyboard makes the whole process fairly painless.


The calendar that comes with the phone is surprisingly good especially since I use the Google Calendar as does my fiancé. It automatically synchronises with both mine and hers and gives me a very good visual breakdown of busy times and daily events across the top.
Creating a new appointment is as simple as holding your finger down on the day and time you wish to use and it then asks you if you'd like to add a new event, full day appointment or if you would like to view your full day/week/month agenda.


Android comes with two packaged e-mail clients. One is the expected Gmail client and this works seamlessly with your online account. The front end is exactly the same as the one that you may have seen on the Apple iPhone, simple and intuitive. Having he G1s slide out keyboard and trackball make editing a pleasure.

The second is a generic client that you can add any online account details to and it will then integrate it into your phones alerts and functionality. I personally don't have any use for this as I use Gmail almost exclusively but for those with MSN Mail, Yahoo or another 3rd party mail shouldn't have any problems will adding this to your phone as long as there is POP3 or IMAP access. The phone will recognise which one you have set as your primary account and all e-mails will be sent from this address. You can set up as many accounts on the phone as you like. As for Enterprise access I don't believe there is sufficient security on the phone itself for this use. Again I imagine this is something that would be addressed at a later stage and as Google are aiming for their products to be used in an Enterprise situation it's not beyond the realms of possibility.

In Part 4 I will go over the Web Browser

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