iPhone Life magazine

G1 vs iPhone Part 3

 My last 2 posts were focused on the new G1 and how it stacks up against an iPhone (or even an iPod touch) from a hardware and operating system perspective. The G1 does well, but some of it's best points are still to be revealed... Let's look at the browser, and how some of the messaging applications compare.

The G1 actually uses the same underlying browser engine that the iPhone is based on. It's called WebKit, and is also at the heart of the Mac browser Safari. So, if you have been living under a rock lately and haven't experienced the iPhone or iPod touch web browsing experience, you will probably (like the rest of us when we first saw it), in 3 words, be blown away. It actually does not suck. Pages are viewable much the same way you would expect them to behave on your desktop browser. I still might not try doing full blog posts and reviews like this from an iPhone or the G1, but general browsing is quite decent. The snappy finger gestures to move around, quick zoom and multi-page views make it quite enjoyable. The browser opens up to the Google main web page (it is their operating system after all). I have a lame blogger blog (as you can see above). The G1 loads it much as you would see it from a desktop browser, with even my little mashed up javascript weather widgets intact in the right side frame. I thought there might be some kind of integration within the G1 browser involving Google Gears and blogger for posting, seeing how it's Google-owned now, but was dissapointed to find that the blogger shortcut added no extra capability (same old send your text and pix to goATbloggerDOTcom blah blah). I did not locate a blogger app internal to the phone either.

The G1 browser works pretty much like any browser. You enter a URL, and it loads up the page. As you can see, site URL hits start appearing as you type. Having an actual keyboard to type with is obviously a G1 advantage. The 3G connected G1 was not as fast at loading pages (or maps) in my experience than my son's iPhone, but it's scrolling is smoother. I think it may have to do with the way pages are loaded/cached. It seemed that the G1 waits to load the entire page before it is displayed, whereas iPhone starts displaying a portion right away. This might explain the annoying checker pattern when roaming later on the iPhone (I'm no developer, just a guess). There could have been a lot of factors involved with the g1's general pokiness, but felt I should just relate that fact. I like the G1 multi-page view better than iPhone, because it puts 4 page views in a single screen, whereas iPhone only displays a single page per screen and you have to gesture between them. The browser does not auto-adjust the initial size of a page as the iPhone does, which is an annoyance. In the final analysis, it's probably a draw in the browser department, unless you have to have the iPhone pinch (zoom)! Multitouch capability (which I'm not that crazy about) is not available on the G1.

Multi-page view...

 

Gmail...the best email ever...

Okay, it might seem a little strong to say that Gmail is the best e-mail service ever, but that's what I'm saying. Certainly, you might disagree if you have an issue with what Google might decide to do with your data some day, or just want or need to run your own corporate mail server. That aside, the functionality is far superior to anything else I have used. Evolution is a joke compared to Outlook 2007--which is not too bad--is still a joke next to Gmail, IMHO. It's ease of use is beyond comparison, and the super smart features, like the automatic threading of common subjects to de-clutter the inbox, are exquisite. My Blackberry has been pushing Google mail to me for almost a year now, which gives me the total e-mail package (corporate exchange email, gmail...all push, all the time). Gmail on the G1 is how mobile mail should be, period. It kicks iPhone and everyone else so far around the block in this department, it's not even funny. Of course, like I said in my first G1 review post, it's a little obnoxious to force you to sign up for an account when you first set up your phone. I have a Gmail account, which had me using the G1 in like 10 seconds, but I have read of others having a little difficulty getting the new phone to connect properly with their existing accounts. The other G1 mail app is hardly worth mentioning (basically a POP and IMAP syncer) next to Gmail. As you can see above, messages in an entire thread (all those re: re: re: that pile up in your inbox) are automatically displayed together in a convenient tabbed view. Gmail on the G1 is basically like Gmail on the browser. The only complaint I have about Gmail in particular is the HTML rendering of file attachments is often a nogo, especially PDF documents. The G1 needs to get some kind of decent app viewing software added in my opinion. The iPhone will do a much better job integrating with your corporate mail servers.

Chat

Add Meebo Chat... and other great free communication apps from the Google Market

Chat on the G1 is (yawn), somewhat boring. It supports the major chat services (AIM, Yahoo, MSN, etc.), but multi-chat clients have been around now since the stone age. It signed me into GTalk as soon as I set up the phone, and when I opened the app, it already indicated me as logged in. I personally like an on-line, free multi chat web service called meebo (go to meebo.com). They happen to offer a client app in the G1 Market, so I downloaded it, and tried it out. I would recommened it over the built-in chat tool actually. Meebo has a widget you can add to your myspace or blog page that will allow site visitors to chat with you when are logged into the service. It also unifies all your different logins under one account (your meebo account). The iPhone and iPod touch are comparitively weak in my opinion next to the G1 in this area. You can certainly find similar chat clients in the iTunes store, but the Apple devices will not allow you to play a game, or switch applications while logged in. The iPhone/touch on-screen keyboard is somewhat a hindrance as well. The G1 did, for some reason, keep closing out meebo mysteriously for some reason. It could have been flaky reception/connections in my area, I guess. 

Meebo, and G1 Chat...

 

Well, that's probably enough for round 3. The G1 definitely gets major kudos in the area of web browsing and mail/chat messaging. I would have to say that the iPhone loses this particular round barely, in fact, but do not fear... Multimedia, Phone and PIM specific apps are up next time. These are categories where Apple is truly the 800-lb gorilla. 

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Nate Adcock's picture

Nate Adcock is a system and integration engineer with experience managing and administering a variety of computing environments. He has worked extensively with mobile gadgets of all shapes and sizes for many years. He is also a former military weather forecaster. Nate is a regular contributor for the iphonelife.com and smartphonemag.com blogs and helps manage both websites. Read more from Nate at natestera.drupalgardens.com or e-mail him at nate@iphonelife.com.