The Motorola Droid. Not to mix droid metaphors here, but I feel like it’s the phone Darth Vader would use. And after a couple of minutes using it, I’m still excited about it.
There’s also something weirdly refreshing about such a straightforwardly utilitarian design. There’s nothing here that’s trying to be sexy. Or particularly clean. There’s all kinds of lines and marks and bumps and details. It’s a strange kind of retro, with the black and the gold accent. It’s, well, Imperial.
I think it’s my favourite piece of Android hardware yet, at least until I see the battery life.
Android Two Dot Oh Yeah
The Droid’s running a basically stock build of Android 2.0. Verizon apps will be available later from a special channel in the Android Market, but it’s a totally unpolluted phone out of the box.
It’s faster, in almost every way possible. (This in part, is thanks to the Droid’s ARM Cortex A8 processor, the same kind in the iPhone 3GS and Palm Pre.) Apps open quicker, transitions are instant and smooth, scrolling rarely drags in the browser or maps.
Android’s grown up. The icons have been redesigned — they’re cleaner, more serious, less cartoony. Contacts, as you’ve seen, has improved with Facebook integration and a new feature called Quick Contact that lets you ping somebody however you want to. Facebook contact stuff works better than the Pre (which gives you all or nothing options) or the Hero (where you have to manually link each contact), with the option to bring in all of your Facebook contacts, just the people that are also in your Google contacts or manual linkage.
Voice is a much bigger part of Android 2.0 — holding down the search button for a second engages voice commands for search, navigation (just say “navigate”) and other features. Speaking of navigation, Brian has a lot more here on Google’s new turn-by-turn service with data layers. It might be the single most significant upgrade in Android 2.0, actually. One thing that’s not upgraded? The onscreen keyboard. It’s still sorta crummy.
Universal search — thank god. It’s amazing to me that the phone OS from the search company fell behind Palm and Apple on this. It’s here now, and it can search your contacts, browser history and bookmarks, contacts, apps, your music and YouTube. (Why you have to separately search SMS and email, I don’t know.)
The browser, besides being simply faster and working better, has a slightly refreshed UI — multiple windows are managed via a simple text list, for instance. Some of the other benefits, like HTML5 support, are obviously a little hard to easily quantify.
We’ll have more for you over the next few days, but for now, just know that yes, it’s okay to be excited about this. It may very well be the Droid we were looking for.