Google Phone Is the New ZuneBy Roy Furchgott
If you get your hands on the T-Mobile G1 smartphone, running Google’s Android operating system, you may be struck with a nagging sense of déjà vu.
It has a comfortably solid heft, and a superior case — it feels like it’s covered with a rubbery skin. It gives the impression of being soft to the touch, but is scuff- and ding-resistant and doesn’t show smudgy fingerprints.
It feels rather like … what is it … oh, yes … the original Zune.
Fitting, because the G1 is arguably the Zune of phones.
Like the Zune, it’s from a late-from-the-gate tech behemoth (Google in this case), and it is up against a well-ensconced, well-thought-out Apple product, the iPhone. By comparison, the G1 interface is somewhat clunky and a tad bug-ridden. With but a few Android apps available online (app shopping works best from the handset, although it’s a laborious process), it has little to challenge the Apple App Store.
But the G1 does has some advantages. There’s the aforementioned resilient case for one. A slider screen reveals a backlit qwerty keyboard in addition to the touch screen, for another.
There is one critical difference. The Google engineers are willing – in fact eager – to hear consumer criticism and respond. If you check the Android forum, you’ll see that engineers are responding to consumer requests along the lines of “Good point, thanks, we are working on that.”
So if the G1 isn’t everything you hoped for out of the box, it seems likely to get better. Good enough to take on the iPhone? We’ll see.