HTC's new Hero shows how sophisticated Android smartphones have become

HTC Hero Android smartphone emphasizes real-time search and a customized GUI.

Google's Android is poised to give established players Microsoft and Apple a run for their money, given the kind of creativity handset makers are putting into their Android phones. The HTC Hero is a good example, emphasizing, as it does, a user's ability to customize the look and feel of the phone and search.

Most of the stats on this phone, HTC's third Android phone, sound commonplace enough: dual-mode WCDMA/GSM, 3.2-inch touchscreen with 320x480 pixel resolution, a 5-megapixel autofocus camera, expandable MicroSD memory card slot, GPS, digital compass 3.5mm stereo headset jack). But underneath the hood you start to see where Google's "hands-off" attitude is a big payback. The software. The device will include a search feature that is said to do realtime search better than your run-of-the-mill searching on the Internet, contact lists or email, even enabling search through Twitter (which is becoming the database for taking the pulse of what's going on in the world).

Add this to the creativity of various folks writing for the Android market, creating software/services such as augmented reality browsers and you can see how Android will be good for the user, not just good for the handset maker (saving money on license fees for Android).

The downside, of course, is that freedom often leads to compatibility problems as Android handset makers currently have no system for ensuring that their implementations of Android are the same, ergo, software written for it may not perform equally well on all devices. But for now, after the ultra controlling worlds of Apple's iPhone, Windows Mobile and the handset maker's own proprietary platforms, Android is becoming increasingly attractive for consumers, and eventually, the enterprise.

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