Couple of New Toys: Google Ion (G2) and Palm Pre

It’s been a busy couple months of intense traveling and juggling way too many projects, but I’m happy to report that I’m beginning to cull both of those to a somewhat manageable level.

New ToysIn the meantime, this past week I’ve picked up a couple new toys. A Google Ion (aka HTC Magic aka T-Mobile myTouch 3G (really T-Mobile?)) that I got care of Bradley Horowitz (I’ve started a GitHub project to at least have some sort of accountability there) and a Palm Pre that I just picked up today.

I figure that since I’ve been using an iPhone (original and then a 3G) for the past couple years and I have active service on all the devices at the moment, I’ll do an iPhone 3G vs Google Ion vs Palm Pre shoot-out after I get a chance playing with the latter a bit more (weekend project?).

There’s a lot I’ve been meaning to post about, so this blog will probably be very mobile-heavy over the next few weeks… In the meantime, some notes:

  • Android has by far the most impressive SDK – the kind of apps that you can do with full phone access are just leaps and bounds beyond what you can do with either the iPhone SDK or with the Mojo SDK. The latter I’m bound by NDA on, but there’s enough public stuff to talk about. I’ll be doing a post soon (also where I’ll rant at length about Apple’s app approval process, and talk about marketshare). That being said, having played w/ almost 20 Android transit apps, I got to say, there’s definitely a real big gap there.
  • I’ve only seen one report of it, which I find rather amazing considering the number of reviews I’ve read, but the Palm Pre does indeed support have TRRS connector support, which include supporting the microphone as well as clicking for answering, pausing, and double-clicking for the next track. This works not just for the music player, but also for Pandora (and presumably other third party apps using the WebOS audio services/media extensions. This rocks, as I have a few hundred bucks worth of Ultimate Buds and am unconvinced on the audio quality that AD2P/AVRCP controllers like the Jabra BT3030 offer (not to mention the battery life issues both for the controller and the phone).
  • The Google Ion has a much better image quality (with auto-focus), but the Palm Pre gets props for both having the fastest shot-to-shot (and the least shutter lag) of any camera phone I’ve ever used. It’s actually faster than my Samsung point and shoot. And since you can leave it open in a card (the live display gets paused) where switching is almost instantaneous, I expect to have a lot less missed shots when spontaneous antics occur. Hopefully it’ll do video as well as it does stills…

  • OCD-leaning people beware, these phones are fingerprint magnets. Amazingly, the Ion and the Pre are both worse than the iPhone in that regard. They both have decent hand-feel, with the Ion fitting a bit better in my hand (a little longer, but less wide). Maybe I just haven’t figure out out the slider yet, but that’s probably the most awkward thing for me right now – there’s just nothing to push against to open it. Oh, also, prying off the micro-USB cap took a real leap of faith. I can see how people have snapped it right off. That’s basically what it feels like.
  • One software note (many more forthcoming) – is that I’m really digging the Pre Mail app’s combined inbox. IMAP IDLE w/ Gmail accounts works great, even better than on Android, which only supports a single GMail account (with everything else in a separate Email app). While I wish there were some improvements (like coloring or some other way of marking which email was going to what account) and it’s nowhere near as mature as the Blackberry inbox, this is still a huge improvement over email on my iPhone – w/ 7 email accounts, it takes 2 clicks to look at my accounts and 4 clicks to get in and out of each inbox (28 clicks total if I have new mail in each account).

Feel free to leave any specific questions and I’ll try to answer, I’m planning on doing a comparison w/ timings and end-user notes as well as one specifically on development and other thoughts. I’ll try to not get too obsessed, since there’s lots of actual work that I really should be doing instead, but at the same time, I have a fair amount to say, and I’ve used just about every smart-phone platform at one time or another and have a decent number of current OS’s to compare these to (I should probably dig out an old Treo and an N-Series to complete the set).