With various T-Mobile G1 “kiosks” stationed around the room at the Press Event the idea was that there would be enough phones for everyone to test drive the G1. All the “kiosks” were virtually identical besides those for Ecorio and Shop Savvy. But there was one big difference… the people showcasing the product.
While everyone there was extremely helpful, one particular T-Mobile G1 Product Manager gave me a quick demonstration that summed up some of the G1’s coolest qualities in an incredibly clear manner. Take a look for yourself:
Lets talk a bit about each of the features he covers.
Touch Screen, Track Ball & QWERTY Keyboard
I’ve heard a lot of people complain about the combination here and I have to say… I don’t understand what there is to complain about? Whichever of the three you prefer to use most – its THERE for you. When the BlackBerry Thunder/Storm was leaked I mentioned I thought it should have a trackball… others thought that was dumb but you use virtually NO addtional real estate with the addition of trackball.
Having the 3 different input methods offers a ton of flexibility that you can adjust to your own personal phone usage. I thought the chin at the bottom of the phone was going to be a bit awkward but as I’ve said before, I naturally glanced my thumb over the trackball while in QWERTY mode to select a link I wanted without even realizing I did it. It was natural.
I have a Voyager now and it has only “send”, “end” and “clear” keys on the bottom. I find myself opening the clamshell a bit too much for things that should probably be simpler. The combination of navigation inherent in the hardware is really growing on me. I’m guessing that feeling will only grow with every day use. The only downfall, in my opinion, is keyboard real estate and keys that are a bit more cramped than the optimal amount. But such is the challenge with mobile… you often have to sacrifice one thing to get another.
Home Screen & Long Press
The Home Screen of the G1 can be personalized to a large degree. Long pressing the touch screen – where you touch and hold for a couple seconds – brings up a customization menu. It was compared to “right clicking” with your mouse which makes a lot of sense when put into context – the long-press is used throughout the Android platform and not just in homescreen customization.
Widgets – Picture Frame
Instead of keeping pictures of your loved ones and friends in your wallet, why not keep them right on your phone’s desktop in a widget? This is a pretty cool little feature that allows you to crop/zoom/resize pictures and easily keep them on your desktop. Again, the comparison to pictures in your wallet is a bulls-eye and its incredibly easy to implement and modify. Pretty neat.
Dedicated Contextual Search Bar/Button
This might be my favorite part of the actual G1 Hardware although there is certainly a software component to it. Press the dedicated search button and regardless of where you are – gmail, youtube, google maps, address book, etc… – it will search the application/screen/state your G1 is currently in. Very simple but VERY helpful. I love it. Sometimes its the little things that get you but to me, this is a pretty big inclusion. Most will probably overlook this and jump to the sexiness of the newest applications, but this one little button deserves your respect. It already has mine.
Google Maps, Street View and Compass
Integration of Maps was seamless and nearly flawless. Illustrating Street View takes Google Maps to a new level of usability and functionality and the Compass Mode is just as advertised… out of this WORLD. This is really going to change the way people get around. By the way Google has just added public transportation directions to New York City maps and “Traffic View” is available in Android’s Google Map mode. Again, our friend demonstrating does a great job explaining when this might be helpful/useful.
The web browsing experience was VERY cool and functional and the pages seem to render quite beautifully. I liked the magnifying glass feature where you see the page zoomed out and scroll your finger over the spot you want to zoom, let go and it zooms in. The trackball was incredibly easy to use for scrolling through links. The web browsing experience was comfortable and so far so good… again, if it holds up on a day to day basis looking as smooth as it did yesterday, G1 users are in for a treat.
I feel compelled to say that while I’ve never owned a BlackBerry I’ve played with plenty and the TrackBall usually frustrates the heck out of me. I know you can alter the settings for it but it never fails to get under my skin. The T-Mobile G1 trackball was smooth, precise and fluent – I was thoroughly impressed with it.
At the end you can hear me ask, for a second time, how you bring up the little touch screen widget. I did have some problems with this at first which I found odd because besides bringing up the zoom in and zoom out, the G1’s touchscreen was incredibly responsive.
I played with it after this demo and it seemed that tapping directly onto the screen with perpendicular pressure was the issue. When I incorporated even the slightest bit of lateral, swiping movement while I pressed the screen the widget would come up immediately every time. Not a big deal at all but I thought I’d mention it.
The Demo Guy
I’m not sure what the gentleman’s name was who gave me this little overview but I believe I heard him say he was a/the T-Mobile G1 Product Manager? Whoever he was, he did a great job… Thanks!