First Impressions from Google’s Android

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Surprisingly enough, HTC Magic is the first Android smartphone that officially entered the market of Indonesia. I got the chance to try the OS along with Andira and Nyonyo when I went to the Festival Komputer Indonesia yesterday. My first impression is that the OS is definitely usable. It might not be the iPhone OS — which is obviously my first preference — but I can say that this is far better than the Symbian, and in fact, this is so much better than that, that it blows Windows Mobile to the dust.

When I tried browsing around the interface, I have a few thoughts about it:

  • The OS seemed a bit lagging compared to the iPhone and BlackBerry. Nevertheless, this is the first smartphone OS that Google came out with, so I think we can excuse them for this. Although I do expect that it should have lots of improvements for the next years to come.
  • Usability-wise, I’m not too fond of how they lay out all the menus. At first try, to me, everything seemed a bit too cluttered, and at the same time it has inconsistent hierarchies. iPhone and Palm still provide the most elegant solution for this. Most normal users wouldn’t want complicated menu items.
  • The keyboard is actually excellent, for an on-screen keyboard. Up to this point, I still feel that the iPhone still holds the most responsive screen keyboard that I have ever tried (I’m still looking forward on trying the Palm Pre), and although the Space key lags sometimes, it is far usable than BlackBerry Storm’s. No offense, but when I opt for on-screen keyboard, I’d like it to respond at my first effort. I simply think that having to highlight a key and pressing it (and at the same time moved to another key and pressed that instead) is a major turnoff.

One thing that I don’t like is probably the build quality of HTC phones. Seriously, they suck. One thing that they should think about if they want to put Android on a smartphone without a physical keyboard is probably not using plastic for the screen. Compared to the iPhone and BlackBerry, it feels like a crappy second-grade Taiwanese cellphones.

Bottom line, if I have to choose between the Android, Symbian, or Windows Mobile, I would definitely pick the first one, regardless what the hardware they’re in. But that is if. Right now, I would still pick the iPhone any day.