The dictionary defines an "Android" as part-man, part-machine. We do not have plastics or electronics humming inside our bodies (okay, there are bust-enhancers and pacemakers) yet, but we have amazing technology at our fingertips today, thanks to mobile devices.
One instance of such an incredible tool comes in the form of the Android operating system (OS) for mobile phones that has taken some time to get traction among customers but now that it has got there, boy, is it sticky! Late in April, mobile phones running on Android, an offering from search giant Google, outsold Apple's popular iPhone in North America, though the Steve Jobs-run company remains far ahead in smartphone global sales.
So, should you too get an Android-powered mobile device?
Top 5 Androiders
1. Samsung i5700 Galaxy Spica
2. LG GW620
3. Motorola Milestone
Rs 26,000 5. SonyEricsson Xperia X10i
- Prices are indicative only.
If you decide to shop for an Android device, you will not be short of choice. There are Android devices starting at price-points below Rs 15,000, such as the Samsung Galaxy Spica, LG GW920 and HTC Tattoo, all the way up to the Rs 30,000-plus SonyEricsson Xperia X10 or Motorola Milestone (still cheaper than the 16 GB iPhone 3GS, which retails at Rs 35,500).
How do Android applications stack up against competition? E-mail, for instance. The software is from Google, therefore the G-mail experience is superb. You will need an application, however, to link back to your office's Microsoft Exchange server. Much like the iPhone, "office e-mail" connectivity is not the main selling point of Android devices. That said, the "Chrome Lite" browser on Android devices and on the newer multitouch devices is excellent.
The Android Marketplace is a great place to find a whole host of interesting applications, many of which are free. Some like Google's new Goggles visual search service, Google SkyMap and other applications such as Evernote, Dropbox and Google Maps' voice-aided turn-by-turn navigation are fun to use as also useful (see Top 5 Android Apps).
Still, it is not as if there are no cribs with Android. Strangely, for an open source software, not all devices can be upgraded to the latest version of the OS, because the hardware may not support it. To run the latest Android 2.1 release for example, a device needs to be multi-touch.
Nonetheless, Android-run devices could make a big splash in India. Local device marketers are keen to push touch devices in India and are already speaking in Google's language. Later this year, we could well see sub-Rs 10,000 Android devices and the OS could easily become the leading smart-phone platform in India, too.
Post-script: To use an Android device to its full capabilities you need to have a Google account. In addition, you will need a data connection to download as well as use most applications. Check with your operator for data plans.
Top 5 Android Apps
The Smart World of Operating Systems