Tuesday, October 12, 2010

DroidX is a Mighty iPhone Competitor

Tired of waiting for the iPhone to be available on the Verizon network I decided to jump onto the Android bandwagon and abandon my Blackberry Storm. The rumor mill continues to heat up with stories of an impending CDMA iPhone available in 2011. I am happy to report that after only two weeks of using the new Verizon 3G Motorola DroidX I really think Apple has very serious competition.

A couple of my concerns about the Droid-type phones were the quality of the user interface and the availability of business oriented Apps (iPhone set the bar very high). Both of these concerns were totally unwarranted. The DroidX’s gesture based user interface works well and is very intuitive. The new Swype technology allowing one to trace out a word on a displayed keyboard is truly amazing. At first I thought it might be gimmicky or even a throwback to Palm’s Graffiti language. However, it is neither of these. I find it to be a major productivity enhancement in creating messages, documents or emails over the multi-tap on-screen keyboard.

What can I say about Apps, there is simply no shortage. Like the iPhone there are tens of thousands of Apps from which to choose. Some are free and some may be purchased. Unlike the iPhone, where there is one central location for Apps, the Android world provides several alternative websites to choose Apps. I am just beginning to discover them; more on this in a later post. The phone came with about 2-dozen Apps. Many of which are very useful. My favorite is Navigator, a voice activated and turn-by-turn spoken navigation system. It is based upon the built-in GPS system and provides a real-time traffic overlay. Well almost real-time.

The first App I needed to find was one to link the DroidX to my company’s Microsoft Exchange Server for email, contacts, calendar and tasks. There were several to choose from in the Android Market and I selected TouchDown (NitroDesk). I downloaded a free and fully functional trial of the App. After spending a few minutes to enter login and server information I was connected to my company’s server. Within 15 minutes I had all my Exchange emails, contacts, events, and tasks on my new DroidX. No more local synchronizing! All updates between the phone and the Server are via the 3G-network or WiFi the updates are immediate.

Of course the Android syncs with the entire Google eco-system of Gmail and its associated apps. You need to enter a Gmail address and you all your Google data is now available on the phone. Other email accounts work well and are easy to setup with the built-in mail application. In future posts I will talk more about some of the business oriented Apps and yes, fun Apps, I am now discovering. If anyone out there has any specific MUST HAVE apps please speak up.

Oh, one other thing, it is a pretty darn good phone!

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