With Sprint ready to release the HTC Hero to customers next month, as well as the highly anticipated launch of Windows Mobile 6.5, I thought it might be handy to write a quick review recapping the Android OS as it stands currently on both the myTouch 3G, as well as the unlocked HTC Hero to give you an idea what to expect.
First, the T-Mobile myTouch 3G is a Google branded device and doesn’t feature the HTC Sense User interface I came to know and love on the unlocked Hero. Sprint users that purchase the HTC Hero will have the beautiful and intuitive Sense UI in addition to the highly customizable Android OS, so already the Hero will be one step ahead in my opinion.
Android phones offer side-by-side home screen panels; allowing you to flick your fingers to navigate between them. You can customize these home screens really any way you like. The Cupcake update to the Google Android OS featured a calendar, music player, analog clock, picture frame and search feature; all welcome additions to any smartphone.
As I mentioned, Android devices are very intuitive; meaning they don’t require instructions or tutorials. Some Windows Mobile devices aren’t the most “mom friendly” (if you know what I mean) so completing simple tasks on a Windows Mobile 6.1 phone can be a bit daunting to the smartphone newcomer.
VIP status for email is given to Gmail, though you can also use your Hotmail and Yahoo email accounts. You’ll be asked to set up or login to your Gmail account upon turning on the phone for the first time. Google Talk is also given preferential treatment over the other instant messengers like Windows Live, Yahoo and AIM. Though available, Google Talk contacts’ status can be easily seen. Yet another area regarding emails where Gmail is given a special nod is with attachments. When you’re using Gmail, you can open your Excel, Word, Powerpoint and PDF documents; however, not when using POP3 or Outlook mail. Then, you’ll need to sync your phone to a computer to access the document since there isn’t an included file manager.
The browser on the T-Mobile myTouch is very nice, especially thanks to the resolution of the display. The phone is quick to respond to my touch (smile) and I found scrolling and zooming to be very easy. The accelerometer is also a plus, with very little lag when switching from portrait to landscape modes. Improvements over the G1 include tabbed bookmarks and the ability to open second browser windows. Using the browser on the myTouch is a breeze and we appreciate the small improvements made over the G1 along with the easy zoomability. Hey, I think I just created a word.
The Android OS operates well on the Hero, and in fact, the Sense UI overlay over Android is all I ever want to use. Well, if HTC and Google want to continue improving, by all means gentlemen, improve. In my opinion, however; for what we have available to us now, it doesn’t get any better than Sense and Android. It’s a match made in, well, heaven. The two work together so seamlessly, I haven’t had to learn how to do anything. Apple and Microsoft may not be showing signs of worry, but let me advise you to try an Android device running Sense. Just for a few weeks. Methinks you won’t want to go back.
HTC developed the Sense UI specifically for HTC Android phones and they really did a smash-up job. With seven screens on the touch-friendly homepage, and fully customizable options on everything you can think of, the Sense UI is as close to perfection as a mobile phone interface can get. Though flicking through the screens has a bit of lag, we presume there will soon be a firmware update to correct this. Beyond that, there really are not any major complaints for the HTC Hero. Sense, well, makes sense. You don’t need any tutorials on how to use it. You can go to one contact and check their latest Facebook updates, Tweets, emails to you, and complete text and call history—all without jumping in and out of programs. You can set one of your 7 home screens to your Twitter feed, another to your email client, and yet another to your Facebook if you’d like. I spent nearly an entire day setting up different scenes for the Hero – one for work, one for play, and one for my upcoming vacation to Colorado. It’s a great overlay and makes Android tick.
The browser works well and flash integration is nice. Pages load a bit slowly, but once loaded, you can switch from portrait to landscape pretty quickly, thanks to a decent accelerometer. Once loaded, pages are already zoomed in. We would prefer if they were zoomed out a bit, however; you can zoom out and in as needed really easily. Also, for longer pages, you won’t get the check boxes if you scroll too quickly. The phone is able to keep up with you nicely, no matter how quickly you read.
I can’t wait to see the new HTC Hero come to the Sprint network. There are many Android devices coming to bat against Windows Mobile 6.5 (and Windows Mobile 7 next year) and the competition is healthy; guaranteeing that consumers will see the most benefit. It will be exciting to review Windows Mobile 7 next year against whatever the current version of Android will be at that time. Stay tuned and we’ll keep you posted on the latest HTC devices.
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