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printed July 23, 2014
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Preview: Helio Drift

Body Interface Location Comments  33  

The software has been completely overhauled since the first two phones. Helio's new interfaces feels like a leap ahead, not only of its own previous attempts, but also of many manufacturer and carrier efforts. It is so intuitive that the first thing you will have to do is unlearn all the complicated systems you are used to. After the experience, I compared it to switching to a Mac. It's so simple that at first you're confused and frustrated because you can't do things the complicated way you're used to.

Helio has taken care to make things easier at every step of the way. At the main menu each item has two shortcuts assigned to the soft keys. So while pressing select takes you to the full menu like it normally would, you often won't need to go there since one of the soft key shortcuts will probably take you right to what you're looking for.

Helio has also changed the interface so that on every screen, select actually works as an OK key. Pressing it means "yes, do this, take me to what's next" in every case. After complicated next and back and options soft key labels on most phones, it was actually difficult to figure this out, but easy to adapt to.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

There are still a few things that are difficult to do, however at least you can do them now. For instance although the option must be selected outside the viewfinder in the general camera settings, the Drift will finally auto-save pictures you take. However new touches were added directly to the camera application - such as keyboard shortcuts to control every option.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Bluetooth is another option that while not necessarily easy to use, is finally available. The Bluetooth menu is the only place where the feature is accessible. While it is normal for technical aspects such as power, discoverability and pairing to be there, Helio also puts sending and receiving files there as well. Like the Pearl, you have to set the Drift to receive files over Bluetooth, and it can receive almost anything. Pictures, music and contacts are all put in their appropriate place on the phone. From the Bluetooth menu you can also send pictures or vCards, but not anything else. You cannot send files via Bluetooth from their native applications. Also the Drift is finally able to read mp3s, movies and pictures you load on the device yourself by using mass storage mode.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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