On Friday morning, I picked up my shiney new HTC Hero from Best Buy. It had been nearly 4 years since my last new cell phone, and the tech at Best Buy was really confused about that. It was the longest between upgrades for anyone he’d ever seen. But in 2007, when I became eligible for a phone upgrade, the Open Handset Alliance was formed, with Sprint as a founding member, and I made a decision that I wasn’t going to buy another phone until it had Android on it.
Android is a Linux based operating system that can be used for smart phones (though many folks are looking to put it into all manner of small form factor devices). Beyond the base operating system it also provides a Java SDK for creating applications, which is one of the cleanest development models I’ve seen to date.
In the past 2 days I’ve been putting my phone through it’s paces, and have to say I’m just down right psyched about this phone. I was always a touchscreen keyboard skeptic, but the wideform + predictive correction in this phone pretty much washed away that skepticism. The Sense UI (which is this 7 virtual desktops thing) is just awesome. Each is configurable with widgets and icons seperately, and you get to have as many saved configurations of those as you like. My brain is already thinking about widgets I could build to pull in some of the information I want into this UI. The NFL widget that Sprint wrote and added showed this off quite nicely, as it gives you a heads up on your favorite team, including live play by play updates during the game.
The phone strongly integrates with google services (go figure!). You feed it your google account info during setup, then your calendar is live synced, as is your contact list, email’s connected, and off you go. You can break any of these links if you want, but having it all just work is great. There is also strong integrate with facebook, myspace (which I don’t use), and twitter. Enter you account details into the phone for facebook and the first thing it does is cross reference your contact list with your facebook friends and say “I think these folks are the same, want me to link them?”. From there on out you get people pictures from facebook for those contacts, as well as their birthdays in your contact list.
The phone just feels great. With all the android phones that are about to come out, I was hesitating earlier this week about whether I should wait until the end of the month for the Samsung Moment with the hard keyboard. I’m glad I didn’t. This phone just feels awesome, and I can’t wait to start hacking on mobile apps later this week.