If there is one thing that absolutely rocks about the Motorola Droid its the fact that its the largest screen on any Android Phone to date – and its awesome. The web browsing experience benefits greatly from this and I can tell you that its pretty amazing. Not only do Full HTML web pages load beautifully on the Droid, but with Wi-Fi you’ll be loading content rich sites blazing fast. Browsing with Verizon’s 3G data speeds in various locations proved to be a winning formula as well.
All of the web browsing awesomeness came courtesy of the 3.7-inch screen, Verizon thankfully including Wi-Fi and their fast data network when Wi-Fi wasn’t available. The stock Android browser is awesome in terms of loading multiple windows, setting bookmarks, providing settings/options and the like… but 2 HUGE problems still linger that noticeably drag down the browsing experience (although the positives far outweigh the negatives).
Multi-Touch vs. Pinch & Zoom
The Motorola Droid DOES have multi-touch, contrary to what numerous news outlets are reporting. The real issue is that Android 2.0 doesn’t have “pinch and zoom” capabilities. Multi-touch exists in the software keyboard, allowing you to press multiple keys at once without missing a beat in what you successfully type.
I don’t care that the Motorola Droid (courtesy of Android 2.0) doesn’t have pinch and zoom. What I DO care about is that there is no half-decent alternative for zooming. The “double tap” that they’ve provided is a total train wreck. At best, it zooms you all the way in or all the way out and at worst, you’ll be scrolling instead of zooming (on accident) or unknowingly tap on a link that whisks you away to an entirely different page. The problem is in concept – a zooming method should allow you to choose the exact increment and zoom level by pure intuition/instinct.
Two solutions that could be easily implemented that would immediately double the browsing experience:
- Click-wheel. Move clockwise to zoom in, clockwise to zoom out.
- Holding zoom buttons. The buttons are already there. As you hold zoom in or zoom out it zooms gradually… users could set the “speed” or “rate” of the zoom manually in their browsers settings.
Honestly, in an Android Phone – a platform that is supposed to completely embrace the mobile web – having a half-baked zooming solution is kind of unforgiveable. I’m really hoping they’re working on this because with a device so amazingly capable, its a real shame for a small factor to be a main detraction.
The Motorola Droid is listed as having flash… with the reminder that it won’t come until early 2010. That is both good and bad – let me tell you why:
- You’re stuck without flash for at least a few months. If you’ve ever used a flash capable browser, you’ll notice it is missing in your everyday interwebz travels and hopefully it will come sooner rather than later.
- Google will be pushing out an Android 2.1 or beyond update early 2010. This means that all the OTHER issues I’ve discussed with Android 2.0 could also be improved and updated at the same time. Let’s hope that Google crams a boat load of work into that update in ADDITION to native flash compatibility.
Google Voice Search
Hold down the magnifying glass, say your search out loud, and your results will be brought up in the browser lightning quick and with incredibly accurately. At least that was my experience with the function. I quickly said “Rob Jackson is the coolest person in the world” and low and behold, Google Voice Search correctly identified what I was saying and provided Google results almost instantly. Of course the search results weren’t what I hoped… will the real Rob Jackson please stand up? (Please note that the author is now standing)
Over Wi-Fi, YouTube worked rather brilliantly. Over Verizon’s 3G network – although it proved incredibly quick for most websites, videos seemed to load a bit slow. But when YouTube is humming along its absolutely awesome. The ability to upload a video directly to YouTube is pretty ballin’ too, although this has been included in previous versions of Android. While browsing along with the web and seeing a YouTube video embedded its incredibly satisfying to press it and watch it load on the awesome screen. Pure Droid win.
Google Docs and Google Wave
There aren’t any Android Apps that allow you better access to Google Docs, a question that was asked many times via Phandroid/AF. And if you’re wondering about Google Wave? That didn’t seem to work either. Although Google could flip a switch and have Wave working immediately – that wouldn’t require an OTA of any sort. So Wavers stay posted.
Overall, the browsing experience on the Motorola Droid is better than the vast amount of smartphones you can find. Once a better zooming mechanism is included and Flash support enabled, I don’t think another phone currently available could beat it.