We got to spend some time with the new Android platform from the Open Handset Alliance. The hardware was a reference design and ARM said it was not a final build at all. They were simply showing off the platform on their chipsets.
One thing we can say about Android is that it is blazing fast. It is probably the fastest phone user interface we have ever used, and that's on ARM's 220MHz processor. The same processor that powers a lot of Windows Mobile phones. The different is speed is palpable, as is evidenced on the video (below).
The basic UI is simple and intuitive. There is a dock, resembling the dock in Apple's OSX, that runs along the bottom of the screen. In it you see the phone's basic applications. Using the d-pad, you can zoom left and right through the items in the dock. The response in instant, and you can speed from one end of the dock to the other by pressing and holding the d-pad.
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The applications were all in a basic form, and not yet fully realized. But everything was very speedy. The contacts database, the music player, Gmail and other applications all opened immediately when selected. Unfortunately nothing was set up or populated with content.
The applications themselves were fairly simple looking. The spokesperson at ARM told us that they will probably be dressed up by the OEMs when the final release is available.
In all, it is a very capable user interface, and we look forward to seeing the final build some time later this year.
Here is a video preview of how Android works:
Our coverage of THE big US cell phone show. Hands-on with new phones from Samsung, Kyocera, Nokia, LG, Sanyo, Motorola, Playboy, Sharper Image, Clarity, HTC, ZTE, Velocity, Sony Ericsson, and a tour of Windows Mobile 6.1.
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In the world a mobile phones, Mobile World Congress is the main event. Taking place each year in Barcelona, it's where the world sees what's in store for phones and networks that year.
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