Droid 2 Calls, Voice Search, Chrome to Phone
Calls You may have read about dropped signals for the device. The device dropped no calls for me in Connecticut, where I've been testing it since Aug. 13.However, unlike other Droid devices I've tested, the Droid 2's signal seems a bit compromised, sometimes fading out of 3G.That's a problem Motorola and/or Verizon will have to rectify, assuming they can pinpoint the causality. Somehow I don't see free bumper cases in Droid 2 users' futures. Call quality was clear and crisp as usual for Verizon in this state. Swype allowed me to handwrite my way to quick texting where and when I wanted to. Voice Search I love speech-to-text input when I'm feeling lazy. The Voice Commands widget on one of the seven Motorola home screens was a treat, allowing me to say words such as "call" or "text" to send messages by speaking into the phone. However, the Google Voice Actions for Android is an excellent new addition. Launched for Android 2.2 devices Aug. 12 (yes, the same day as the Droid 2 appeared in Verizon stores), the utility has been baked into Google Voice Search. Just tap the Voice Search widget, speak a command such as "text Jane" or "call Rob," and the software immediately pinpoints those contacts in your phone and carries out those actions. While fine in theory, voice recognition presents the same challenge. Requests to "call Marisa's Restaurant" returned a variety of options, everything that sounded phonetically like my query, but weren't close from a semantic standpoint. Voice Search needs some polish, but when it works, man is it great. I also "voice searched" Google Maps for Central Park and that worked fine. So, hit and miss. Chrome to Phone More exciting, and more reliable was Chrome to Phone, the extension/application tandem for the Chrome Web browser and Android 2.2 smartphone, starting with the Droid 2. Leveraging Google's cloud-to-device messaging API, Chrome to Phone lets users send links or highlighted text from Chrome Web browser on a desktop or laptop to a smartphone for reading on the go. This is useful for when you've come across something online at home on your computer and you have to run out. Rather than bookmark it on the PC and read it later, users can click a button in their browser and send the content to the Droid 2 in a split second. To use this, users must download the Chrome to Phone extension to Chrome on their desktop or laptop, then install the free Chrome to Phone app from the Android Market. You'll need to sign into your Google account to use this, but it's worth it. I sent links, Google Maps and videos to the Droid 2 with single mouse clicks. Did I mention this functionality is fast? The future is bright for cloud-to-device messaging on Android.