Now that Google’s Nexus One phone is out of the box, I thought I would share a few of my thoughts on the Android platform. It has been three months since I got my HTC Hero – my first exposure to an Android-powered phone.
The HTC Hero is running on a 1.5 Firmware version and I’m hoping that HTC soon provide us with the latest update. (Will it have the capacity to run Android 2.1?)
I must say that I spent a bit of time reading the HTC Hero manual; the user interface is not as intuitive as the iPhone (yes, I know… this is what I’m comparing it to), but once I got it personalised, it felt like it belonged to me!
As a heavy user of Gmail and GoogleMaps, it didn’t disappoint. The mobile version of Gmail is fantastic and having GoogleMaps easily accessible has eased many of my journeys. When 3G coverage is available the experience is almost faultless.
I didn’t use Google calendar before my HTC as I always relied on iCal, but as soon as I figured out how to sync the two, I now use both iCal and Google calendar on my desktop, which sycs with my HTC phone. Still looking at how to sync my Hero with my MacBook though. At the moment there’s no sync software for the Mac. This is the downside if you haven’t got a PC.
However, I can mount my HTC Hero with my MacBook OK, and download all my pictures to iPhoto and view all my videos with QuickTime Player. I’m pretty happy with this set up as most of my photos and videos can be uploaded to Flickr, Facebook or Twitter – the main social network options available by default.
As you would expect with most smartphones, the HTC Hero comes with its own Twitter client, Peep – which I soon swapped in favour of Twidroid.
The Android browser is pretty fast. It was compared with the Windows Mobile and the iPhone by Brandon Miniman. The display in the Hero is great, making reading on the browser a more pleasurable experience.
The 5 megapixel camera and the video camera are a joy to use, and if anything seems a little better than the iPhone. I wish it had flash but for this I think I might have to upgrade to the Nexus One.
The wifi on the HTC hero is indispensable at home as my 3G coverage is limited.
Of course there are some missing features (tough love), like the calendar icon to display today’s date! It’s annoying that every night I have to set it to Airplane mode to stop it from bothering me with illuminating email notifications in the middle of the night.
I’d also prefer an option on either my HTC phone or Gmail where I can select only the email contacts I wish to have on my phone. At the moment, every single person I have ever emailed is in my phone! If anyone knows how to manage this easily please let me know!
The Android Market needs a better user interface (it does not compare well with iTunes). There are far too many screens to look through to be able to find the application I might need. If there was a decent desktop market place where I could browse, I would only need to search for the app on my phone to find what I’m looking for. I’m hoping that Google improves this soon.
Verdict: Great phone; sticking with Android for the moment.
More about the HTC Hero