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October 27, 2009

The best and worst of Android

I've had my Android HTC Hero for 17 days, enough time to check out the basic functioning of the Android platform.

BEST: Google Voice Search. This lets you use your phone to do a Google query simply by speaking a word or phrase. I'm assuming that all the speech recognition processing is being done on Google's servers, but this service is remarkably fast and accurate.

Late last night, I tested it by speaking "epigenetics new england journal." Within seconds the screen showed the first hit as the excellent review article by Dr. Esteller, published last year. Since I have an account with NEJM, I was able to view the full text, download and view the PDF, and download some PowerPoint slides associated with the article, but these had text that was too small to read on the phone's screen. They also have an option for downloading a PDA version, but Android is not yet supported.

You can use the voice search for addresses, businesses nearby (the phone always has an idea of your location), or not so nearby, and you can use this in conjunction with Sprint Navigation, the turn-by-turn satellite GPS service also supported on this phone.

WORST: The contact manager is blind to company or organization names. You can't search by company name, and an incoming call will not be identified unless there is a person's name associated with the number. I guess that's why the app is called "People," but it's a major incovenience, and in my opinion, a major flaw.

My old Palm 700p Treo has a much better contact manager.

A quick search of the Android Market didn't produce any apps that would correct this deficiency.


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