Previously in The Diary of an Android Virgin – A beauty on the outside, a beast on the inside.
Android 2.3 aka Gingerbread: Purely Google
Most Android phones in the market feature a customized version of the operating system, with additional software layers to suit the respective phone manufacturers and carriers offering the phones.
Not the Google Nexus S.
This is Android as it should be, as it is meant to be used. There is no custom skin or custom user interface here; it’s the true blue Android. The default Android interface makes it easier to navigate and makes for a more enjoyable user experience, less all the clutter. This is what the search engine giant likes to term as a “pure Google” experience.
The Nexus S, co-developed by Google and Samsung, is the world’s first device powered by the latest (and fastest) version of the Android, aka Gingerbread . It was recently launched in Malaysia by Maxis, a leading mobile communications provider in Malaysia.
S for speed
Previously we mentioned that the Google Nexus S is powered by a powerful 1Ghz Hummingbird processor and it provides the juices to make Android 2.3 flow beautifully. Everything, from opening apps to scrolling down lists to managing your settings is smooth flowing and very responsive, hardly any discernible lag in sight. For someone migrating to Android 2.3 from Windows Mobile 6.5 like me, the Google Nexus S is simply a breath of fresh (and super smooth) air.
Black and green are the colors of the ‘Droid’
Black seems to be the color of choice when the programmers of Gingerbread were working their magic in its development stage. There’s plenty of it everywhere; the notifications bar, even the the background of the notifications bar is completely black.
This emphasis of black makes the menu window (which is transparent) look more pronounced.
As for the connectivity icons (e.g. WiFi, data etc), they alternate between green and grey depending on availability of connection.
Many of the stock icons have been recolored to match the green/black theme found throughout the user interface. Highlighted icons are now backed by an orange glow.
Home is where the heart is
Android 2.3 comes with not one, but five home screens, accessible by scrolling sideways. Each screen can hold 16 apps, and each screen has an icon menu which leads to the dialer, the full apps folder, and the browser. The main home screen is bare save for Google search bar and an Android guide icon but you may choose to populate it with your desired app(s). I like the simple bare look so I left it as it is.
Power and apps management
Android 2.3 is more power-efficient than its predecessors. A new battery menu is included in this build to show the user how much power is being used and gives an estimation of how much time there’s left before the need for recharging arises.
There’s also a new shortcut on the Home Screen and the Launcher to the “Manage Applications” menu for the user to check to see which applications are currently running and how much power is being utilised by each app and also allows the user to close one or more of them if necessary.
The new Downloads application gives you quick access files that have been downloaded from your browser, email program, or other apps.
I like the keyboard in Android 2.3. It’s not as great as the one on the Iphone, but it is a significant improvement over the one included, say in HTC phones running Windows Mobile 6.5. The keys are spaced out nicely and the layout of keyboard is very clean.
The auto-correct on the keyboard works great, and the text selection method makes typing or composing a message easier. The tabs are a little larger and easier to maneuver and for a person with chubby fingers like mine, they are a blessing.
The top bar on Android 2.3 not only displays the connectivity and battery strength but also notifications, be it about SMSes, Wi-Fi availability, Twitter messages, voicemails, downloads, installs etc. Once a notification comes in, you can pull these down the notification bar to examine the said notification, go straight to it or clear it. The phone will also chime to notify the user of incoming text message. My complaint in this department is that the phone does not have a notification blinking LED to let you know that you have messages; you’d only be aware that there are messages once you switch the phone on.
Sleep, my love
The coolest feature of Android 2.3, to me, is when you press the off button to put the phone into sleep mode. It features an awesome animation that looks like an old TV turning off, made believable thanks to the contrast of the Google Nexus S’ Super AMOLED display.
To be continued..