Monday, August 17, 2009

The next stage in the Evolution of the HTC Android phones

The HTC Magic is dead. Featured in the Manila Bulletin Technews as the perfection of the HTC G1, we now consider the Magic dead, buried and forgotten as HTC released their latest Android powered phone, the HTC Hero.

The screen of the Hero features a special oleophobic coating similar to the iPhone 3Gs that makes finger smudges easier to remove. The body of the white version (the one that I have) is coated with teflon to keep it clean and spotless as Teflon resists dirt, stains and even fingerprints. The Hero is also the first Android powered smartphone to support multitouch, you can now pinch and zoom photos and websites iPhone style.

HTC has successfully integrated the latest and and most useful features of a smartphone into the Hero. It is the first Android phone to ship with support for Adobe Flash Platform technology, a technology that would help deliver a more complete web browing experience to the users. It now sports a 3.5mm audio jack which the G1 and the Magic did not have. The Hero is also the first HTC device that features the HTC Sense user interface. A very impressive and sleek widget-centric UI earlier known as "Rosie".

With HTC Hero, personalization has been greatly improved. Rather than burying important content under layers of menus, users can customize it with at glance view, with widgets that can be placed right on the home screen. The widgets can also be personalized with a variety of designs and sizes.

There is also a new feature called Scenes. It's a new profile feature that makes the Hero multiple phones in one. Users can create and switch between Scenes that reflect different moments or moods.

Staying in touch with other people means managing a variety of communication channels and applications ranging from phone calls and emails to Facebook updates. HTC has integrated Facebook and Flickr in the device and links the contacts to Facebook and Flickr feeds so that you can not only see their contact details but also their Facebook updates and recent Flickr photos. You can also see all your interactions like emails sent to your personal and work accounts.

Even basic functions like the dialer, email, album and search are now improved.

You can find a person by dialing their phone number or simply by dialing the first few letters of their name.

The inbox is not just a list of emails, but a catalog of conversations, a collection of notes flagged as important, and a document library of all emails with attachments.

The Album is not just the photos saved on the phone. It is also a gateway to online collections to Facebook or Flickr.

You can also search just about anything, anywhere on the HTC Hero. The dedicated Search button combs through tweets in Twitter, locates people in your contact list, finds emails in the inbox, searches through appointments in the calendar and finds anything in the phone with just a keyword. This feature is HTC's answer to iPhones spotlight search.

With the above features, the Hero makes the HTC Magic looks like a child's toy, a phone although powered by the same OS but lacks a broad range of useful applications compared to the Hero.

The Hero is the third Android powered smartphone of HTC. If the HTC G1 is the first stage of the evolution of HTCs Android phones, the HTC Magic is the homo erectus and the HTC Hero is the modern Homo sapiens.

Published in the August 17, 2009 issue of the Manila Bulletin.