Low Tech Wins

So, I’m speaking at the Communities Exchange conference in San Jose today, filling in for Paul. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since he announced last week that he couldn’t make it. Hence the lack of content here. Anyway, looks to be an interesting conference, only 45 attendees, small on purpose. I hope to post a recap later in the week.

For your reading enjoyment in the meantime, here comes an Android post.

With the launch of the first Android phone coming up next week, there have been a fair amount of early reviews, mostly positive from what I’ve seen. I actually got a sneak peek at the T-Mobile G1 at OpenWorld when a friend of the ‘Lab showed me his demo version.

Even though I only spent a few minutes fiddling with it, one thing I did notice was the unlock feature. Unlike the iPhone and other phones, you don’t enter a code to unlock it. Instead, you’re presented with a three by three field of dots and asked for your pattern to unlock it.

The pattern you choose must contain at least four dots, and none can be used twice. The video below shows it in action, and here’s a more detailed discussion.

Yesterday, TechCrunch pointed out an obvious, low-tech way to hack the pattern, i.e. examine the screen for an oily finger trail. Those of you with iPhones will recognize this, since you’ve probably noticed the streak on your iPhone right over the “slide to unlock” button.

Looking at the finger streaks on an Android phone probably won’t give you the exact pattern, but it definitely lowers the number of possibilities. This reminds me of caper movies where they use powder on a keypad to show which numbers were used.

Anyway, just a funny instance where a really clever solution is trumped by low tech.

Otherwise, I’m looking forward to full reviews of the G1, which is set for release on October 22. I’m hoping Android phones will give the iPhone some much-needed competition. Not that I’m planning to switch, but competition would be good because, ideally, it drives innovation.

For example, one big plus for Android phones is they can run apps in parallel, one of my main peeves with the iPhone O/S. I’ve not yet seen if Android can do copy/paste, but that would be another win. Plus, I’m hoping to see some cool Google apps that extend what Maps, location, and local search can do.  All good stuff.

Anyway, here’s to hoping competition pushes more features into the iPhone.

Do you plan to consider a G1 as your next phone? What do you think about Android? Find the comments.



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