Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Hands on the G1
Today I had my first chance for an actual play with the first phone to be launched based on Google's Android architecture, the G1. I had read many reviews and gave my synopsis in an earlier posting to this blog, but it was nice to touch and try one for myself.
My first observation is that the reaction of a user to this phone may be very different depending on whether they have a Google account or not. It is impossible to make or receive a simple phone call with this device until one has created a new Google ID or entered the details of an existing account. The problem here is not that this costs any money (it doesn't of course), but rather that the people in the world who have or desire to have a Google account are a particular skewed population. This may be fine if the target audience for G1 matches this but not if the intention is to sell to a more general audience.
My second reaction relates to the connector provided on the bottom of the G1. It seems to amount to an HTC proprietary version of mini USB with extra audio connectors. There is no separate audio jack to plug earphones into to listen to a call or music playing on the phone for example. And the connector is hardly standard either. Apple received (rightly) some flack for the decision to put a recessed audio jack on the original iPhone which restricted the earphones that could be used to the ones Apple provided with it. They subsequently removed this restriction on the 3G version released this year. I wonder if the successor to the G1 will also revise the thinking behind the connectors used. I haven't seen much complaint about this for the G1 yet it not only requires a specific earphone termination but also USB connection/power cord too!
Apart from some issues with how well the included mail program handles other IMAP mail systems and some user interface inconsistencies, the general performance of applications on the G1 seemed reasonable for the first version. However those who describe it as an iPhone killer are missing many things ... including that Apple has added so many corporate-friendly features, a significant one being full exchange support in the iPhone software updates. But the G1 is an interesting device and will probably achieve the idea of fragmenting the marketplace further from the established players, something that I feel may well be more important in the Android strategy. Anyway I suspect a large number of technical internet-savvy, the open-source fraternity and tech-industry people will love it as their phone.