Google Android/Interface

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2009-11-19 Print this article Print


Google Android/Interface

The HTC Droid Eris runs Google Android 1.5, while the Motorola Droid runs Android 2.0. Functionality between the two in terms of the Android Marketplace, Amazon MP3 Store and Maps seemed roughly the same. The HTC Droid Eris is pinch-and-zoom enabled, while it seems the best way to zoom into a Web page on the Motorola Droid is to tap the screen twice-a major complaint for some, it seems, but both navigation methods felt intuitive to me.

As my colleague Clint Boulton mentions in his own review of both devices, the Droid's Google Maps Navigation application for Google Maps is an excellent tool for navigating between points A and B. The HTC Droid Eris might lack this tool as a default, but its integrated GPS definitely comes in useful.

Business users will appreciate the integration with Microsoft Exchange; the ability to view and perform some lightweight edits on documents was useful, as well. These functions worked seamlessly, with little lag time.

Thanks to Apple products, I am fairly used to virtual keyboards; the one on both Droids felt "narrower" than Apple's version, however, and it took the equivalent of maybe 20 minutes' typing e-mails and URLs on both devices before I stopped making stupid errors.

Both phones exhibited just the right sensitivity to finger taps, although with the Droid I had to sometimes press hard on widgets to activate them. Finger-scrolling on both devices also seemed set at an appropriate speed.

The HTC Droid Eris also comes with Teeter, which lets the user roll a silver ball through an obstacle course via tipping the phone in various directions. It's a fun little time-waster. The Motorola Droid, because it wants to be taken with macho seriousness and nobody's figured out a way to port "Modern Warfare 2" onto a smartphone, lacks games initially. The Android Marketplace, though, will fill with procrastination tools over the coming weeks and months.    


At the risk of instigating a flame war, I feel that the Motorola Droid is the closest that an Apple rival has come to creating a true iPhone killer. Subsequent versions of Google Android will iron out the few kinks, and the Android Marketplace will expand its apps offerings-maybe not enough to challenge Apple's App Store, but certainly enough to make it a more robust challenger.

The one drawback to the Motorola Droid is its form factor. I did appreciate the physical keyboard, but I felt it also came at the cost of a weightier-than-necessary device and blocky form factor (the Palm Pre had a sliding physical keyboard, too, and yet its designers managed to keep it fairly light). This may be a benefit to people who prefer to carry a physically substantial phone. I am not one of them.

The HTC Droid Eris shares many of the same benefits of the Motorola Droid. It is also lighter, and I didn't mind relying only on a virtual keyboard-although that could be an insurmountable problem for some users. The one major drawback to the Droid Eris was that trackball, which was annoying and made some functions decidedly un-user-friendly; but future editions of the device may take a page from RIM and adopt a trackpad. At $99 after rebate, as opposed to $199.99 for the Droid, the Droid Eris may present a better price proposition for some users, depending on their data plan.

In my own opinion, I declare a three-way draw between the Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Eris and the iPhone-but the next generation of the latter two devices could very well overrun Apple, unless Steve Jobs has something particularly innovative up his turtleneck's sleeve.

Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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