Well, it’s been a few weeks since I got my Verizon Android phone. I decided to write about it.
Verizon/Google Â release the “Droid” with Android 2.0
When I first got my phone, I was amazed by all the things it could do.
Well, letâ€™s start… wait.Â Where is the main menu? but wait.Â I cannot.Â You are not able to even get to the home screen until it’s activated on the Verizon network.Â Â A bit odd, okay. So they have you call an 800 number, and confirm your order number.Â This only takes a few minutes.
Tip: Get past this. Tap the 4 corners of the phone -Â Top Left, Top Right, Bottom Left, Bottom Right in portrait mode.
Next, Google account creation.Â Google requires the phone to have a Google account.Â Okay not too bad.Â This allows for full integration of services, search, andÂ GPS location specific information.Â When testing the HTC Eris phone,Â the Google services were not added, and the phone continued to function well. I am assuming the same for this Motorola Droid phone.
The first thing I did was check the leftÂ and right screens.Â The phone essentially has 3 desktops, so to speak – so there is a place where icons and widgets can be put for easy access.Â Then there is an “All Programs” tab at the bottom or right side of the screen, all depending on which way the phone is held.
One of the first things you will notice is a Google search bar with a microphone.Â You tap the microphone, say what you want to find, and instantly a Google search browser opens with what you are looking for.Â I searched for Best Buy, and it showed me a map, and even asked if I wanted directions.Â I tapped “directions,” and was instantly put into navigation mode.
Found on screen portrait, on screen landscape, and yes, on slide out keyboard.Â I use all three of them, based on what I am doing …Â sending a quick message, portrait on screen, sending a sentence or two, landscape.Â Writing a book, or lengthy email, slide out keyboard.
About what I expected from a do-it-all: the battery life was not what I expected, and was almost dead after about 7Â hours of constant playing with the phone. I needed to find some applications to help with this, and I did.Â Some of the apps are listed below.
Has a flash, perfect.Â There is a bit of a delay from the time it takes the image until it’s displayed on the screen. I think this is due to the 5 megapixel image being written to the memory card. I have seen the same delays with memory sticks.Â The quality is excellent.
Excellent.Â Built-in, Bluetooth and speaker phone all sound great.Â The speaker phone is very loud, and also works well with music and audio.
Hidden Hardware Features:
You can trigger these modes by using the North and South ends of a magnet.Â This was discovered by accident by using a belt holster. For the first week I could not figure out why this neat little screen only showed when I pulled it out of the case and would then immediately go away.Â Well, it has to do with the magnets in the case used to keep the flap shut.
After further research I found that Motorola/Verizon plan on having additional accessories for this (Window Mount, and Media Docking Station).Â Slick feature.
Media Station Mode: Shows a neat screen with clock (almost like an alarm clock)
Car Navigation Mode: This allows for hands free navigation and searching for items.Â I haven’t used this yet as I am waiting to get a window mount for this.
Bar Code Scanner:
One of the first applications I got was the bar code scanner.Â This application allows you to scan any barcode of any product.Â It will then allow you to do a product search or web search.Â Â Want to find best prices, setup price alerts, and shopping lists?Â Check out Savvy Search (see below).
The only trick is making sure there isÂ plenty of light, and that the phone is directly in front of the UPC barcode at least 6 inches away.
This is an excellent application that uses the barcode reader.Â It allows you to search the area, and online for the same item.
Shopping lists, favorite items, and even price watch are all available.Â I have already used it to scan an item in the store and do an instant search.Â I discovered a $30 book in the store could be purchased online for only $7 with free shipping.
Ever look up into the stars at night and wonder what you are looking at?Â This application allows you to hold your phone up to the sky and will show you the stars that you are looking at.Â Want to find Mars? or Alpha Centauri?Â Just type in the search, and watch as the pointer points you in the right direction.Â Google Sky Map is also another great alternative.
Advanced Task Manager:
This application is essential.Â The Droid allows applications to run in the background.Â This is great, but how many applications can it run? I have found that after doing a few internet searches, checking email, playing a game, and streaming internet radio stations,Â the voice quality sounds a bit choppy,Â kind of like a VOIP phone with a bad connection.Â Use this advanced task manger to kill all the running applications, and this will improve sound quality, speed, and even battery life.
This is another one that I feel is essential.Â It helps improveÂ the Droid’sÂ battery life. This app allows you to turn on/off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS,Â and synchronization. It even allows a small widget to be added to your home screen for easy toggle on/off of services.Â This alone has allowed me to increase battery life by at least 40 percent. It even has a brightness option that allows you to easily change the brightness from indoor to outdoor conditions.
This allows you to share bookmarks and otherÂ items easily with a barcode that can be scanned with another phone. This QrCode works extremely well and better than the normal bar codes on devices.
Nice application that lets you check the speed of the network where you are currently located.Â This is nice, if you find that YouTube is taking a long time to load.
Shows the satellites, and other information.
Lets you see the strength of various Wi-Fi signals.Â This is great when setting up or troubleshooting wireless connections.
This application comes preinstalled.
Twitter application that is free, but has a paid version that allows videos.
This one is worth getting.Â I used it this past weekend for a one-year-old’s birthday party.Â It allowed me to take a video, and while it was taking the video thereÂ was a 7-second delay to the website, so everyone could watch live.Â How cool is that?Â It offers a live wireless webcam with a single tap into Facebook and YouTube. I can seeÂ many interesting videos coming soon. I hope this feature isn’t abused by its users.
The Google Navigation works pretty well. The phone or I was a bit confused trying to figure out where to go when driving around downtown Philadelphia.Â I will chalk this up to getting the hang of the device.Â It was nice to see the street view onÂ GPS maps and actually seeing the building, streets, and road where we needed to go.
This app is installed by default. Works great, and no problems.Â I could watch YouTube videos all day on this phone.Â When clicking on a YouTube video link in Google Talk, or on the web, the phone prompts for eitherÂ browser or YouTube.
Great idea to find things in the sky; however I prefer PlanetariumX as it gives much more detail of the sky.Â I also like the feature of holding the phone up to the sky, and it showing you what you are looking at. The search feature is also nice when trying to find Mars or Orion’s Belt.Â Shows you in which direction to move your phone to find it.
Wikitude World Browser presents the user with data about his/her surroundings, nearby landmarks, and other points of interest by overlaying information on the real-time (augmented reality) camera view of a smart-phone.
Restaurant reviews, movies, local news, gas prices, weather, friends… WHERE has it all. WHERE is a great travel companion and the most complete local search utility. WHERE helps you discover places and things and connect with people around you.
Gives the entire text of the US Constitution and references in the palm of your hand.
Find out why your wireless keeps failing, andÂ finds out other wireless networks in your area.
Twitter for droid.
Verizon preinstalled.Â Not worth it.Â Verizon wants to charge you another $2.99 per month to get your voicemail on your phone.Â The application cannot even be uninstalled. I would recommend setting up Google Voice and downloading the app for that.Â Not only can you hear the voicemail on your phone, but Google Voice tries to do a speech to text.
Another preinstalled application that cannot be removed.Â I haven’t used Amazon MP3, so I have no comments on this, other than I wish they would let me remove it.
This is manageable when disabling various services depending on need. Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and Active sync.Â You will need to find your own middle ground. Do you need GPS on while you are working from the office all day?Â Â Probably not.
Sudden lag, or slowness of applications, and responsiveness of the phone.Â This is due to too many things running the background.Â This is one of the first phones that can handle multiple applications at the same time.Â Easy fix: download Advanced Task Manager, and every once and a while, end all tasks.Â This will also help conserve battery life.
I have noticed that if too many applications are running that the audio quality will get choppy.Â Again, end all the background services (see Stuttering above)
The buttons at the bottom get hit quite frequently when holding, or when pulling the phone from a holster.
Keep in mind that these are only annoyances.Â I am still very pleased with this phone, and will continue my journey into Java programming based 100% on this phone.
I am very impressed with the hardware in this Droid phone, the versatility, and the thousands of Android applications already available.Â I also enjoy the open source community and development.Â This alone will make and help this phone to become “number 1″ with consumers.
This Droid phone feels like a tricorder from Star Trek. In fact, I justÂ searched forÂ a tricorder application just out of curiosity, and there is one already.
Disclaimer: This is an unbiased view, and I am in no way affiliated with Verizon, Google, or Motorola.Â In fact, this is my view and does not represent the views of my employer. I am releasing this review to give back to the tech community.