HTC Magic: Day 2

Back on the HTC Magic, with a few more impressions on the basic Android applications: browsing, contacts, and a few more.

First, a general feeling: the buttons still feel good, and the trackball feels even better. Navigating in a text, even small, on the iPod Touch is painful, and I hate to have to put my big finger on top of the editable area, waiting for the magnifier to (eventually) show up. With the trackball, no problem any more: you navigate with the ball, which happens to be just below the virtual keyboard. It even reminds me of my PC setup.

Now, about the contacts application. It is synchronized with my Google contacts, which is quite good, because this provides me with a good place to put my main contact list. However, as of today, my Google contacts include a lot of trash. Their interface is not very sexy, and the phone interface is not ideal either. Plaxo is not working either. This does not sound really good. Final bad touch: my contacts are sorted by first name, and I can’t change it. Now, thigs are really bad, and it’s annoying.

Let’s switch to the browser. In the first experiences, it’s not bad, although it is not as good as the Touch’s. I don’t really like the multitouch interface on the browser, because it lacks precision, but the more traditional interface on the Magic is not really good either. Same feeling about the default view. The Magic keeps the text readable, even if that means that the page doesn’t fit on the screen, where the Touch displays the entire page. More zooming in one case, more moving in the other.

In terms of browsing, the iPhone has a major advantage, though: its fame. Many Web sites (including this one) automatically switch to a mobile-optimized mode when browsed from an iPhone, but not when browsed from an Android device. I guess that this will improve as Android becomes more popular.

Finally, let’s move to the application store. I haven’t spent a lot of time, so I guess that there will be more posting on this.

The first application I looked for was a Twitter client. The first ones suggested by the basic search were far from optimal. I ended up searching for the good client on Google, and found one quite fast, which happened to be Twidroid. It seems to be extremely popular, and I wonder why I did not get it in the first suggestions in Android Market.

Next, I just browsed through a few applications, and ended up downloaded four:

  • A Compass, which works well, and which is one of the few features that I have and iPhone owners don’t have.
  • A barcode scanner, which works great and also finds my English books. Too bad that it does not seem very aware of French products. I will look for a more local one. It also looks like a great way to exchange contacts and URLs through QR codes (Yes, I hate Bluetooth for doing that).
  • A weather application, Weatherbug. Not bad, but I will quite likely change it in the future.
  • An application that uses local information, Qype Radar. Seems to work, but more testing to come during my vacations.

Overall, my feeling is not bad at all. All the applications are free, useful, and even those that I don’t like completely don’t crash and give a good feeling of quality. I have had worse experiences with iPod Touch applications. However, let’s wait a little before to draw conclusions.

To finish, a few goods and bads:

  • I have a better control of the accelerometer on the Magic; in particular, I have the feeling that it knows when I want it to change from portrait to landscape.
  • I have said it already, but the buttons and trackball feel quite good, mostly because they provide a good level of consistence between the applications.
  • I have not started to use the agenda. I don’t really like the Google sync, and the UI doesn’t feel as good as the Touch’s UI. I will wait a bit for that one.

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