The Motorola MILESTONE is the first device to ship with the new 2.0 version of the Android OS. As such it has the great chance to offer quite a few software advantages over its market rivals. The 2.0 update will eventually make its way to more devices of course but time works in MILESTONE's favor right now.
The new version of the "Google OS" brings many new features and a whole new set of APIs to allow even more useful apps to flood the Google Market. We chose to cover in depth the web browser and the camera in this preview.
The other improved features are messaging, the phonebook and calendar, as well as the virtual keyboard but we will leave those for our upcoming full review.
So, the new OS might bring new features but the general user interface hasn't seen any major changes. The MotoBLUR interface that was developed for the Motorola CLIQ (or DEXT if you prefer) is nowehere to be seen here but perhaps it will be adapted and ported in a future software update.
The homescreen is the cornerstone of the Android UI. Giving you three screen panes worth of space (by default), it helps you put up front all the items you need most. And there are plenty of things that can go up there. You have shortcuts to applications of your choice, then folders and finally, widgets.
In case the default homescreen is not much to your liking there are already several alternatives available at the Google Market. They each give you a few different organizing options and a bigger number of screens.
There are three new preinstalled widgets that come with the Android v2.0 - a corporate calendar (the one synced with your Exchange account), the Weather widget and the Power control widget (a handy connectivity manger for your desktop). The power control was known as Switchers on the Galaxy so it's not really new but they added a display backlighting control to it so it counts here.
The traditional search widget got an update too and now shows suggestions as you type, just like the Google homepage. It searches local files or gives you a shortcut to initiate a web search, which is a really comfortable solution. You can also make use of voice searches just like with the Google's own iPhone app.
Already feeling quite snappy on the 528 MHz Qualcomm CPUs, Android works like a charm on the Cortex-A8 processor of the MILESTONE. The developers did a really good job of solving the performance issues on all devices since ver. 1.5 but now that they have more powerful hardware at hand things feel even better.
We have prepared a short video demo of the Motorola MILESTONE so you can see that for yourselves.
With such an ample high-res screen and a full QWERTY keyboard, the Motorola MILESTONE looks like the logical choice for people who take handheld browsing seriously. The Multi-touch support allows the pinch zoom, while the great Android Webkit-based browser provides one of the coolest interfaces in business.
Android 2.0 also introduces the double tap zooming pattern whereby double-clicking on a selected part of a web page quickly zooms in on it to fill the screen. Regardless whether you use this option or the pinching gesture zooming is smooth and fluid and so is panning.
Another new feature is the address bar, which is now constantly available so typing a new address is easier than ever. With the high resolution there is still plenty of space available for the website contents to be displayed.
The final new feature brought by the new OS version is bookmark enhancement with page thumbnails.
The excellent multi-page support is of course still available and the rendering algorithm is basically flawless. If it wasn't for the missing flash support, the MILESTONE could have easily challenged the best mobile web browsers. Yet, this major problem makes the Motorola a no-go for people that frequent flash websites.