posted by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th May 2008 16:16 UTC
IconMultitouch and touchscreens really are all the rage these days, especially in mobile devices. Apple's iPhone set the bar, and now it's up to the rest to either catch up to Apple, or outdo them. Google is trying just that with its Android mobile phone operating system, and it has demoed the capabilities of its new mobile phone operating system.

Where earlier Android devices sported a rather clunky, unfinished graphical user interface, the latest Android device from Google appears like a production quality product, according to The user interface has some really interesting touches, with most importantly, the unlock screen. Instead of using a drag switch like the iPhone, it shows nine dots, and your password is basically a game of connect-the-dots, and the patterns can be made as simple or as complicated as you want. That's a fairly clever way of securing your device, and fits very well into the paradigm of the touch-driven interface.

Another nice touch is the status bar atop the screen. It shows the time, any notifications, appointments, you name it. You can drag the status bar downwards to reveal a shelf which contains large buttons that give you access to the actual notifications and appointments. I'm sure fans of the Amiga have flashbacks to their dragable desktops.

The device also supports multiple desktops. You can swipe to reveal another desktop, which you can fill with desk accessories (not widgets) or shortcuts to contacts, programs, or web bookmarks. This looks like a drop-dead-obvious method of extending screen real estate without having to resort to tedious scrollbars - a UI element that really doesn't work very well on small screens and touch screens.

The Google Maps implementation also has a very interesting feature:

All in all, it seems as if the iPhone will be getting some serious competition, which can only be seen as a good thing - especially seeing Android is not tied to one vendor, and thusly, not tied to a single carrier or device.

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