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HTC Dream - Of Androids and Electric Sheep
By Seow Tein Hee - 4 Mar 2009


The Android Market

Know what we're going to talk about? That's right, it's the Android Market. As much as we would like to avoid the comparisons between this and Apple's App Store, it's bound to happen. So we'll say it once for the record: App Store has the edge. In terms of popularity and quantity, there's so much one can do to match up to the App Store standard. But in light of the lead time Apple got with its service, the game is still open for Google and its Open Handset Alliance partners to trump the competition. So, instead of harping on what the Dream doesn't have, let's talk about what it brings to the table.

The Android UI will be unfamiliar to users of both Windows Mobile and Symbian S60. Practice makes perfect, we say. And that, we did. The Extended Home Screen (as labeled by HTC) is essentially a 3-page home screen that houses all your application shortcut icons. In essence, it's actually like a full page spread that's folded into three pages. We were tinkering around with the wallpaper function and realizes it isn't a fit-to-page portrait version.

Though not as extensive in terms of pages, the extended home screen on the Dream gives you up to three pages to place your icons by swiping to the left or right of the screen.

Akin to how one adds widgets onto their desktop, you get the same user concept here. By pressing and holding onto existing icons, you can rearrange their current positions, or even toss the shortcuts into the bin to make space for more useful applications. Besides swiping left and right to access the icons on your extended pages, you'll only need to remember two other areas to swipe.

Swiping your thumb down from the top of the screen pulls down the notification tab. Typically, you'll see your emails, downloads and any other notification on this tab in a full drop-down list. Swiping from bottom up will reveal the list of applications within your device. Similarly, press and hold an icon to drag and drop a favored icon onto the home screen for easy access. Alternatively, just press the respective icons within the menu and you're good to go.

From the top, you can pull down the notification menu that shows you a list of unanswered messages, emails, calls and even downloads made on the Android Market.

Pull the Menu up from the bottom, and you get the full list of applications within your device. Press, hold and then drag it onto the home screen to create the shortcut to your application.

As listed in the specifications table earlier on, you'll notice that the Dream's connectivity options are aplenty, ranging from the usual Wi-Fi, to dedicated high speed HSDPA mobile broadband. Seeing as how the Android OS is aimed towards communication services such as Gmail, YouTube and downloading applications off the Android Market, this comes in as a pretty nifty feature.

The oddity about the Dream, is the lack of a native video player. The only thing that's anywhere close to doing so, is the integrated YouTube application that links you up with the latest YouTube video on site. This really isn't of any surprise to us, since Google does own both YouTube and the Android operating system on the Dream.

Thus, we made a short trip to the Android Market. Lo and behold, within a few searches we found what we needed: a video player. It is kind of odd that the Dream requires a third party application to play its videos, but thank goodness for alternatives that exists on the Android Market.

There are loads of alternatives on the Android Market. In our short run with the application warehouse, we found ourselves clicking away and downloading loads of free applications during our daily test. Using either the Wi-Fi or HSDPA connection to link to the Android Market, we browsed through the various applications, segmented into distinctive areas. Trippy little applications such as a Magic 8-Ball to tell your fortune, to practical ones such as a Compass or Battery Manager to manage your power usage are just some of the things you can find on the market.

Speaking of battery life, let's move on to something that's a little more hardware dependent: the Performance index of the Dream.

Within the Android Market, you can do a quick search, or go into the respective sections to browse through applications that might be of interest to you.

And like we said, there are plenty to choose from within Android Market. Campy stuff such as Magic 8-Ball, to useful Video Players, are all in the bag within the Android Market.

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