So yesterday I'm at the one of the mobile phone stores shooting the S about android with one of the employees. They tell me that they recently took delivery of Garmin's new android phone running 2.1. they said they weren't supposed to show it since the phone is not yet available for sale, but he offered to pull one out and show it to me anyway.
The phone was brought out and turned on. Nice little machine. It seemd nice and solid with very clean styling, but nothing revolutionary going on. Once he turned it on though the trouble began. For some strange reason, Garmin has saddled their pretty little phone with the world's worst UI over android. the main page is this static folder thing on the left 2/3s of the screen, with a vertical sliding doc on the right. the interface takes you to garmin's preinstalled apps, and you can choose one of them to jump to the android desk tops. the problem is that in their infinite wisdom Gramin didn't set up the android desktop as the default. To go anywhere on this POS, you have to go through the home screen, which, as you guessed, is the stupid folder thing Garmin added to android. I was like, WTF, and the store clerks were laughing. They agreed that they loved android, but couldn't believe that they were selling such a crappy ui with this garmin. It really is too bad, since the phone itself was nice enough. Some companies really have no business getting into products they are unfamiliar with.
AT&T ads don't mention even once that the Moto Backflip is Android-based. That's a good thing IMO, because if it were marketed as an Android-based device, those new to Android could easily get the idea that it is representative of Android. I hope that this new Garmin thingy is marketed the same way - with no reference to Android.
If people think a product is crap, that perception will translate to every aspect of the product, including the manufacturer, the carrier, and the OS. The last thing Android needs is some crappy product damaging its image.
It's a shame that Garmin came up with such a crappy interface, but I think they have no choice but to enter the phone market. I have a Garmin GPS unit, and it's a great piece of equipment, but now I almost exclusively use my phone for navigation. If the cell phone makers are going to get into the GPS market, then Garmin is going to have to get into the phone market.
I've posted on Garmin's forums asking if they are going to release an Android app, perhaps making it possible to use maps (licensed of course) from their other devices. I said it shouldn't take away from their phone sales since their phone is on the wrong carrier. I have a Legend HCx handheld and use it for GPS more than my phone partly because of Garmins maps and partly because of battery life (it will run 18+ hours on a pair of AA's so I just carry a spare set of AA's and don't have to worry about having to keep it charged like my droid).
Interface doesn't look as bad as I pictured in my mind's eye before seeing the pic but still...seems like a strange way of organizing things. The hardware looks much better than I initially thought as well.
Good point, incredulous. Never really thought of it that way.
Good point in regards to the backflip too. I had no idea it was Android based until I saw one quite some time after release. However, you seem to discredit the backflip and I'm not sure why. It is a strange little thing with the way it flips (I always thought the idea of a flip phone/clamshell design was to protect the screen and prevent accidental keypresses...the backflip's inside out design does neither...) is kinda stupid and the trackpad thing is weird, it didn't seem like a bad piece of hardware after messing around with one for a few min.
It looks like Garmin is in big, big trouble. They are not handling the revolution of Android and Google Navigation very well. Short Sell Garmin once all these phones get updated to 2.1 and people start figuring out google Navigation!
I'd rather just use Google Maps' Navigation feature on an Android phone than to waste money on that.
For replacing car navigation devices yes, but Garmin's strong area is the handhelds, the transreflective screen, maps without data, topo maps (though the terrain layer is decent in google), running from AA batteries, etc.
Although I think the one advantage about this phone that I read is that you don't have to be connected to a network of any kind to still get GPS navigation which is nice because if i'm not on 3G with my iPhone, I can't get a GPS signal which is BS.
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Originally Posted by rmp5s
Interface doesn't look as bad as I pictured in my mind's eye before seeing the pic but still...seems like a strange way of organizing things. The hardware looks much better than I initially thought as well...
Meh, I think it serves its purpose. Obviously, if someone is looking at buying a "Garmin phone", they are looking at getting the GPS as the primary feature. They are most likely people that have experience with Garmin units and maybe hate having to leave the unit in the car (theft), or wish it had "internet", and/or could make calls, making it seem more like a "truer" all-in-one device. Especially for road warriors.
I've got an AVIC 700 head unit (in-dash NAV, 7" screen), which runs on WinCE, and I can't help but thinking how great it would be if I could get internet on it to stream other media (slingbox, web enhanced maps, etc). I can see how the market for this device would welcome the interface...I wouldn't want one, but to each their own.
For some strange reason, Garmin has saddled their pretty little phone with the world's worst UI over android. the main page is this static folder thing on the left 2/3s of the screen, with a vertical sliding doc on the right.
They designed that Classic home screen originally for Android 1.6 to hide Android 1.6's glitchy interface and they did a pretty good job on it. It is simple and you have 3 big icons for what you'd do most on garminfone (call, search location, view maps). With Android 2.1 update you get an option to keep the 'Classic Home' or change to 'Breeze Home'. I agree that multiple desktops with app icons would be compelling for youngsters and techies, but I think their 'Classic Home' style is good for those elders who are having hard time adapting to touch screen phones because it is very simplistic.
I agree with samurai_jack. The Breeze interface that operates over Android 2.1 on the Garminfone is a COMPLETE joy to use. It is very transparent, and, as samurai_jack noted, it provides you with 4 screens. I find very little difference functionally between my dad's Garminfone and my Samsung Vibrant, thanks to the Breeze interface. Also, the custom GPS function is that much easier to access. As noted in this forum, the Garmin GPS functions COMPLETELY INDEPENDENTLY of cellular network access, whether voice or data. I have verified this myself, travelling from L.A. to the Las Vegas Valley.
The Garmin-Asus Garminfone is the company's first offering for T-Mobile USA. With a 3.5 inch capacitive touchscreen and built-in Garmin GPS, this is more of a GPS with phone cpabilities rather than a phone with GPS capabilities.
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