I wrote recently that Google's Android, the open-sourced, linux-based mobile phone operating system (OS), does really seem to be the sole competitor to the iPhone's OS X-based software. It's been designed from the ground up with modern-day mobile handsets in mind.
Since then we've seen the Palm Pre launch and Palm's "WebOS" at CES and this week in Barcelona, mobile manufacturers are unveiling new products en masse at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event. Two handsets, the HTC Magic - aka the Googlephone Mk2 - and the Toshiba TG01 have so far really shone out.
The HTC Magic is the successor to the HTC Dream or "G1" - which was a total and utter brick and which, typically for Australia (always last in the gadget launches), was released here just last week on Optus. I was quite surprised just how ugly the Dream was upon launch, and it lacked proper features such as a decent headphone jack. It seemed rushed, poorly designed and completely unnappealing. Thousands still bought one because of Android.
There's no comparison between the old Dream and the sleek, new HTC Magic (left), which is mightily close to the iPhone in aesthetics and key touch-interface components, namely the keyboard. This could prove a serious contender to Apple's finest. A great interface and OS finally married with a great looking phone.
The Toshiba TG01 (right) seemed to spring out of nowhere just a couple of weeks ago and its specs are something else. From Engadget:
The TG01 is a 9.9-mm thin handset will feature a 4.1-inch WVGA (800 x 480 pixel) touchscreen display, HSDPA data, GPS, WiFi, a microSD slot, and custom Tosh 3D GUI.
It looks like a promising design, but it has one serious floor - the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system. Oh dear. Windows Mobile 6.5 was also big news on Tuesday, but to be honest I could care less if they introduced Windows Mobile 27. As with so many other products put out by Microsoft (and that's not to dismiss they do make some great ones too), Windows Mobile 6.5 is still so weighed down by legacy requirements and subsequent crippling complexity it really looks pretty sad next to truly modern mobile mobile operating systems (like Android and Apple's Mobile OS X). As Engadget puts it:
That's a pretty disappointing approach from Microsoft given the pace of change and the increasing sophisitcation of the competition. With this in mind, I expect the TG01 to be little more appealing in reality than the Sony Ericsson Experia X1. A great looking handset that's strangulated by its core OS.
Apple vs. Android vs. Palm it is then.