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Android love and IT apps

Mark Gibbs | March 24, 2011
Gibbs is crazy about Android and loves the IT apps

As frequent readers of this column may have noticed, I am a big fan of the Android operating system.

While I also love iOS, Android has, I think, more potential for innovation having a richer, more complex ecosystem of developers and publishers without being constrained by the heavy, and sometimes inexplicably random, hand of a single uber-vendor.

Over the last couple of years, I've tried the original T-Mobile HTC Droid, the Verizon HTC Incredible, the T-Mobile HTC MyTouch, the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S 4G (I'm sending you to the spec page as the home page is the usual splash page that takes forever to load and has loud, annoying music) and the Verizon Motorola Droid X and Droid 2. (A couple of phones I haven't got my hands on yet are the HTC HD2 and the HTC Thunderbolt ... PR people please take note.)

Through my testing of these cell phones I wound up using all the versions of Android and every user interface that every vendor throws on top of those. And that may be one of the downsides to the Android market: The variability of the UIs - some are slick and polished while others have clumsy, "rough edges".

My favorite Android phone so far is the HTC Incredible, maybe because it has my favorite Android UI. One reason why: the placement of the off-screen buttons. On the Incredible, they make sense: Reading from left to right there's the home button, the menu button, optical trackball, back button, and, finally, the search button. On the Samsung Galaxy S 4G the home and menu button are reversed which seems wrong to me, though my enthusiasm for the Incredible may color that judgment.

That said, the Galaxy S 4G has some great attributes; it is fractionally thinner than the Incredible and the slight increase in its width is more or less unnoticeable. What really shines (literally) is the Galaxy S 4G's 4-inch, 800 x 480 pixel, AMOLED display, which is fantastic! The Incredible's 3.7-inch, 480 X 800 pixel OLED display isn't quite as good, though it is still excellent.

There are a couple of problems with the Galaxy S 4G: when you press the wake-up button on the right side, you have to swipe the screen to unlock the UI. The problem is that the swipe has to cross the whole screen which is tricky with one hand and, when there's an alert, unlike the Incredible, there's no LED telltale lit up so you'll spot that an alert is waiting should you miss the audible warning.

The Galaxy S 4G has the Swype text entry system which I like a lot. With Swype you just drag your finger from letter to letter and the system figures out what you're trying to type. The auto-correct accuracy is excellent even when your fingers are really too big to hit the tiny, onscreen keyboard with anything that approaches accuracy.


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