Saturday, June 6, 2009

Android Usage Update - Onscreen Keyboard

It's been a week since upgrading to Cupcake.  For fellow G1 users, if you haven't, it's a must.  For others who are curious and interested in the Android realm, welcome and I'm about to update you on the G1 after I've upgraded the OS to 1.5.


First, the onscreen keyboard.  It was a bit tiresome (not too much) to have to flip the screen up to gain access to the physical keyboard hidden underneath the G1.  Sometimes, when I'm surfing the Web, I just want to type in simple searches or the URL.  Having the virtual keyboard saves time.  And if you use your G1 for a lot of your mobile Web browsing on the go, that time adds up.  It's a good addition that should have been available right from the beginning.


Now, there are a couple of issues I have with the onscreen keyboard.  Google, are you kidding me?!  It's horrible!  First it's very small.  Compared to the Storm and in particular the iPhone, the Android keyboard is small, cramp, and easy to use at all.  Perhaps, this is another issue of the onscreen keyboard being a beta version.  


It's very easy to mistype but the screen was not very sensitive to the touch.  This is an issue that I've read about on blogs and users from forums.  The keyboard reminds me of Windows Mobile.  I'm talking about the Windows Mobile on my Dell Axim from 5 years ago.  It's no better.  In fact, I went to my drawer, took out the Axim, brushed off the dust, and charged up the Dell PDA.  I tested the onscreen keyboard and I was getting better results on the Dell.  


So the onscreen keyboard definitely needs work.  The G2 is coming this summer.  It's a iPhone-like form factor.  Here's my recommendation.  The G1 may still be on sale.  I don't know if T-Mobile will discontinue it in favor of the G2.  If they do, it's a mistake.  


Android's onscreen keyboard is not ready for primetime.  Here's my recommendation.  When the G2 comes out, go to the store and play with it.  Use the onscreen keyboard for a bit.  Don't just hack a couple of words on it.  Write a couple of paragraphs.  See if you like it.  If not, as dated as the G1 is now, it's still better than many of the smartphones on the market.  You might consider getting that instead if you do more typing than the occasional texting.


Note:  When I'm dealing with Android, as many iPhone users had to go through (just as Storm users had to go through), the first version is really a beta even if it's called 1.0.  At the pace of development on the Android, we fans have to wait until version 3 for things to be as it should and except from Google.


Note:  I'll try to post a couple of picture and video of the typing I'm talking about when I get a chance and put it to a side-by-side comparison with the iPhone.  


Another Note:  I'm pretty critical about the Android because I truly believe in the potential it offers.  It's not an iPhone OS-like platform.  It's a whole different beast, which is why I'm still very excited.  Nevertheless, Android users can expect a certain level of functionality and quality and, so far, we're not seeing it.  


Third Note:  There is a lot of talk about Android being ported to netbooks.  I really would like to see Google focus on Android on the smartphone market before it moves beyond it.

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