At the 2009 Google IO developer’s conference, all attendees received a special version of the HTC Magic called the “Google Ion”. Quite a nice freebie for those folks. I was lucky enough to buy one from one of those lucky people and have been using it for the last few weeks. I must say, after using the iPhone, there was an adjustment period! Forget about pinch/un-pinch zooming. The UI has more than 1 form of input. This is because the device has a touchscreen, trackball and an array of buttons. So, the Android UI doesn’t have the same uniformity of the iPhone OS. Having used it, that isn’t all bad. While all of the same apps aren’t available on Android, I don’t think we’ll be wanting for long. I’m using twitter/email/web/maps, etc. just fine! The phone integration is great and I found a really cool app “Phonalyzr” which gives me stats on my call log, which is really cool stuff!
Android can do multi-tasking whereas the iPhone does not. I can have apps running that get data pushed, or do polling and give me alerts for things like e-mail, tweets, new wifi access points, etc. This alert feature (you slide down the status bar to view them) is really nice, but beware of information overload!
On to the hardware. The Ion (Magic) is a little smaller than the iPhone 3Gs. So, you get a smaller screen, but also something that feels less bulky in my hand. The Ion is just a little thicker than the iPhone which give it that sturdy feeling in my hand. It doesn’t feel fragile. I’m sure the screen will get scratched, since it isn’t glass like the iPhone. Of course a screen protector is recommended. I do like the fact that I can slide the back off the Ion and expose the battery, SIM card and MicroSD card. The later can be removed without turning the phone off, which is very cool! The only connection on the phone is the custom port on the bottom. Slightly bigger than a mini-USB, but it isn’t the same. The USB cable is the charger. The phone came with 2 headset options, one with a fully wired set of earbuds with mic and the other has a jack, so you can plugin your own headphones. Oh, the A2DP sweetness should not be overlooked! My ROKR S9-HDs sound great. (As they did with my SE W580i and my iPod Touch) The only real downside to the hardware has been that the phone can be sluggish at times. I think this is because the processor isn’t quite as fast as it needs to be. Maybe I had a few too many apps running, but I haven’t found a great way to determine that either.
I can’t finish without mentioning one really cool app. Google SkyMap. It uses your location and orientation (using GPS and magnetometer) to show you the portion of the sky “behind” your phone. Imagine, on a dark, cloudless night, looking up at the stars. Then imagine holding your phone up next to those stars and seeing a sky map for that portion of the sky, with all of the constellations labelled. Now, you turn, while holding the phone out in front of you and the map changes to match what is “up there”. This is just the type of app that makes you go “wow!”.