The past year saw Android truly arrive in India with some excellent devices such as the HTC Hero and Tattoo. Google claims to be a "Non Evil" search engine company and though they are not exactly evil, they can hardly be called "just" a search engine company. Aided by HTC's super-smooth "Sense" user interface, Android is a breeze to use. Log in with your Google username and your contacts from Gmail, Google Maps as well as the Google Calendar and other features just meld together. Combined with Facebook, Flickr and Twitter integration, devices such as the Hero and its smaller sibling, the Tattoo, work like clockwork.
The Tattoo, despite possessing a not-so-fast processor, gives the integrated Android experience for a very reasonable price—Rs 16,900, or half the price of the Apple iPhone. The "search engine company" has now tied up with HTC to make the Google Nexus One—a self-branded phone. If launched in India, its estimated price would be around Rs 25,000, which will make it cheaper than the iPhone but capable of running multiple apps. While the iPhone still has the superior music player, Android blows away Nokia's tired Symbian operating system. Though the newer Maemo operating system is better, there may not be enough devices using it.
It isn't just the Nexus which intrigues us. The Motorola Droid with a slide-out keyboard has been getting rave reviews as well. And better still is SonyEricsson's Xperia X10 whose four-inch OLED screen is among the best we have ever seen on a mobile device. Both these devices will be top drawer—they will wear price-tags of around Rs 35,000-40,000.
However, there are some issues with Android that Google should address. First, the PC-to-phone sync process is still a bit clunky. Second, and more crucial, not all applications available on the Android marketplace work on all devices supporting Android. There are right now three different Android versions—1.5, 1.6 and 2.1—and this makes life a bit complicated. Worse, many manufacturers add another layer of software on top of Android, and not all are very good.
That said, Google should hopefully iron out some of the kinks shortly. And with that Android should be on its way to becoming the smartphone platform of choice in India this year.