At 8 AM on Friday morning, Joelle and I were at the Verizon store in Camillus checking out Verizon’s two new Android-based phones: the Motorola Droid and the HTC Droid Eris. Joelle got me the Droid as an early Christmas gift and, at the request of Ryan, I’m taking some time to post here about my initial experiences with the phone.
The Home Screens
These are the home screens on the Droid. There are three available and you switch between them by dragging your finger across the screen. You can put shortcuts to any applications you like anywhere on these screens as well as widgets that serve various purposes. You can see that I have a few shortcuts on my middle home screen (which is the main one) and on the top of each screen is a widget.From left to right: the Facebook widget which shows status updates from your friends, the Power Control widget which allows you to switch wi-fi, bluetooth, GPS and syncing on and off, as well as adjust the screen brightness (this is one of the best widgets I’ve found since these are otherwise buried in the settings menu, this is included by default as part of the OS), and finally the Weather Channel widget (which I have recently replaced with the Weather Bug widget). I’ve read elsewhere on the internet that having a lot of widgets can slow the phone down considerably and can also be a battery drain so I’m going to try to stay away from using them too much. The last picture on the right is a shot of the phone while locked. Touching and sliding the unlock symbol to the right will, obviously, unlock the phone. This screen looks slightly different if you have a security code set. In that case you would see a 3×3 grid of dots which you have to connect in the special way you picked in order to unlock your phone. You can also put the phone on silent by touching and dragging the speaker to the left.
Next is the phone application itself. The dialer is easy to use and the tabs across the top of the screen make it easy to view your call log, choose from your contacts and access your favorites. The second picture is what the screen looks like when you’re receiving a call. To answer, touch and drag the green button to the right (to ignore, do the opposite). While you’re in a call, the screen shows who you are talking to and gives you options related to the phone call. You can easily add a person to the conversation using the “add call” button (a feature I have not tested), end the call, go to the dialpad (to enter DTMF tones at an automated menu, I assume), mute, and go to speakerphone. One thing that’s really sweet is that the phone automatically turns the screen off while it’s touching your face (meaning you’re talking on it) and turns the screen back on when you pull it away from your ear (so you can end the call or whatever else you need to do). This prevents accidental button presses and works very well in my experience. That last shot is just what the screen looks like after you end the call.
These are just a few screen captures of random menus and such on the Droid. The settings menu obviously contains any setting you could ever hope for, including the SD card and phone storage settings. That shot shows how the Droid is limited to storing applications on its internal memory rather than utilizing the included 16GB SD card. This is an odd restriction but doesn’t seem to be a big deal so far since I have 10-15 apps installed and have barely used any of the internal memory. The apps menu lists out every app you have installed. Shortcuts can be dragged off of this menu and onto the home screen for easy access. That last shot is of the Android Market where you can search for applications to fill your every need.
The browser and other stuff
Here’s a shot of the browser in landscape mode. As you can see the entire width of the website is visible and you can zoom in by double tapping on the screen. The next shot is of the battery use menu which shows what applications/services are using your battery. As you can see the screen is the biggest culprit (I’ve since been trying to keep the screen brightness way down) with wi-fi being a close second. The last one here is the text messaging interface which is pretty simple but displays your texts in a conversation format, which is a big step up from my Windows Mobile phone.
Those are most of the key things I’ve discovered so far. Below you’ll find a gallery of pictures with all the ones I’ve showed you so far with a few more I didn’t. One thing I didn’t take time to mention was the Barcode Scanner application which is capable of scanning normal barcodes found on items in the store (as seen in my picture where I scan the barcode on my propane canister and then have the app look it up on Google) as well as special 2D QR codes which can contain other data such as a URL. Below is the QR code that links to the Barcode Scanner on the Android Market. Scanning this code with the app will give you the option to open that application’s page in the Market. Edit: to download this application, search for “barcode scanner” in the Market; the application is named exactly that and will show up in the search results.
You’ll also find a couple bonus pictures in the gallery of my favorite novelty application so far. If you’ve watched any Star Trek you’ll recognize it as a Tricorder. It uses realtime data from the phone’s various sensors to fill the screen with all sorts of graphs and numbers, which is pretty awesome. Another application I really like is Gmote. Installing this application on your phone, coupled with a server component running on your computer, gives you full control of your desktop from the comfort of your living room couch. It has built-in compatibility with VLC (unfortunately, not Media Player Classic) and has the ability to control the mouse and keyboard of your computer using the screen as a touchpad and either the phone’s physical keyboard or the onscreen keyboard.
I am very impressed with this phone so far. It’s fast, easy to use and a lot of fun to play with. The only thing I haven’t liked so far is the battery life, but I have a feeling that will get better once I’m not playing with the phone every minute. If you have any questions please post them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. Now, the gallery.