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The T-Mobile G1 / Google Android Smartphone

The T-Mobile G1 smartphone is the first commercial implementation of the Google Android design (see previous post).

The Android platform is being developed by the Open Handset Alliance -- which just announced the addition of 14 new members interested in deploying new Android devices, contributing to the Android Open Source software project, or providing other support.

The G1 is an impressive first product, with solid hardware and interface -- but it's not for everybody. It's not intended as a full phone / PDA / Internet / multimedia device. And it doesn't sync to desktop data (like Outlook) or desktop media (like iTunes). Instead, it's clearly focused on people who live on the go, and on the Internet, accessing Gmail and Google's suite of online services from whatever system is available.

The G1's interface is clean and responsive, designed with subtle touches to help you understand what you can do in the current context. For example, the Home screen displays a tab to slide out and show all the available applications, then just click and drag favorites to the Home screen. Zoom controls automatically appear when you touch the screen in the Browser or photo viewer. And the background dims and goes out of focus behind a pop-up dialog.

Online access is improved by the built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking, which connected quickly and easily at sites like the Princeton Public Library and on the Princeton University campus to browse the Web or play YouTube clips with minimal delay.

The Google-centered focus of the G1 is shown when you first power up, as it asks you to enter your Google account information (or offers to create an account for you). This then is the profile for your phone, used by the built-in Gmail application. But you only can have one such profile, which would be an issue for people with multiple online identities.

The T-Mobile G1 is a quite solid first implementation of the Android platform. Yes, it has glaring omissions as a PDA, and huge gaps in its multimedia features (including no video support). But if you live in the Google cloud online, then this already is close to an ideal device for you. The rest of us will have to wait for other Android products, and see how Google and the developer community add new applications in the Android Market to shake out this device for more conventional use with desktop systems.

See full article: Living in the Online Cloud: The T-Mobile G1 / Google Android Smartphone

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