Operating System 1, Hardware 0
The most eagerly anticipated feature of the G1 is the Android OS and touchscreen UI. As Apple is really the only mobile phone maker to have truly cracked the touchscreen nut to date, a lot of folk are looking to Android to provide a real alternative.
The basic UI is blindingly simple. The Android “desktop” is actually three times the width of the screen – just swipe your finger left or right to access the two areas not in view – so from the off you have a lot of space to play with. In any area, you can tap the little grey tab at the bottom and a 4 x 4 scrollable menu springs up with all the application icons in it.
The UI is quick and responsive, but missing a few tricks
To open an application, either tap it in the menu or hold it down to move it to the desktop then tap it there. Shortcuts for individual contacts and web pages can be similarly placed on the desktop, as can widget applets.
Within five minutes of switching on our G1, we had the central panel of the desktop populated with the applications we wanted to use regularly along with the big clock. We then pinned the Google search bar, a few web links and some less oft-used apps on the right-hand panel, and our 12 most-contacted contacts on the left. Wholly simple, wholly customisable, wholly brilliant.
The fact the supplied wallpapers extend across all three panels makes it look nice too. Alerts and system messages show up in the top status bar – simply drag them down for a detailed look at what's afoot.
If the touchscreen UI was slow and unresponsive this would all count for nothing, but it's far from it. It is every bit as slick, quick and fluid as the iPhone's UI and puts the likes of HTC's Windows Mobile-based TouchFlo 3D right in the shade.