After a slow start, Google's Android mobile phone operating system is gaining momentum in the U.S. market, powering a series of new handsets hitting retail in time for the holiday season. Here's the intelligence on this latest wave of smartphones and how they size up for business users.
Device: HTC Hero
Service provider: Sprint
Features: 3.2-inch touchscreen; Wi-Fi/Bluetooth functionality; BlackBerry-like trackball; accelerometer; dedicated Search button. Messaging support spans IMAP4, POP3 and Microsoft Exchange Server. First Android device to support Adobe Flash.
Business bonus: HTC's new Sense user interface, which offers more efficient access to contacts, social media and business-focused features such as e-mail and calendar.
Price: $179.99 with two-year contract
Service provider: T-Mobile USA
Features: 3.1-inch HVGA touchscreen; slide-out qwerty keyboard; Wi-Fi. E-mail and contacts supported by Yahoo, Windows Live Hotmail and other POP3 and IMAP e-mail services. Combines IM support for Google Talk, AOL, Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger.
Business bonus: Motoblur, a new user interface that automatically delivers communications updates from apps such as e-mail and social networking to the Cliq's home screen in easy-to-view streams.
Price: Not yet determined
Service provider: T-Mobile USA (dubs handset the myTouch)
Features: 3.2-inch touchscreen with 320x480 HVGA resolution. Pre-installed Google services including Gmail, Google Search and Google Maps. Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Business bonus: Google's Android Market application storefront features a growing inventory of third-party apps to appeal to business users: For example, DataViz's Documents to Go Standard Edition supports Exchange ActiveSync and enables users to view, edit and create Word and Excel documents. On the downside, no native support for Microsoft Exchange.
Price: $199.99 with two-year contract
A Most Excel-lent iPhone App
Ever want to compose and edit Word documents and Excel spreadsheets on your iPhone? There's an app for that--finally. Quickoffice Mobile Office Suite exploits the bells and whistles in Apple's recent iPhone 3.0 OS software update to offer access to a host of Microsoft Office tools: Users can now cut, copy and paste text in Word, as well as open e-mail attachments and share files via Wi-Fi or Apple's MobileMe iDisk remote storage service. Excel functionality includes landscape editing, direct double-tap cell editing, and copy/ paste functionality spanning cells, columns, rows, and cell ranges and formulas. Users can also view iWorks, PDFs and other common media file formats. Credit Quickoffice for an intuitive user interface and a steady stream of software updates that consistently improve the application's scope and utility. It's proof positive that the iPhone is now a must-own for small businesses--not just connoisseurs of fart apps.