Motorola Droid Launch Surprises Verizon Employees - iPhone Comparisons Abound

Android Games

The Droid launched nationwide today, including in the Chicago area, where Verizon Store employees were not allowed to turn on the phone until the designated time.  So, at midnight last night, the world experienced Android 2.0 for the very first time.  And the world was happy.

Although several sites are reporting "underwhelming" demand for The Droid, anecdotally, I can't help but disagree.  Each store that I visited in the Chicagoland area last night had a line of at least a few people.  Think aboout that:  how many times, if ever, have you seen people line up for a cell phone at midnight?

Oh yeah - only one other time.  The Verizon Droid is the new iPhone, and launch day bears this out.  We'll see if Android has the strength to carry gamers hearts, but as for me, I'm sold.

What is so great about the Verizon / Motorolla Droid?  Well, firt, let's look at the new features of Android 2.0.  Then, let's look at the incredible gaming features of Android in general.  Let's face it, Android 2.0 is no iPhone, but Verizon is offering The Droid at far less of a cost, and at least the same core functionality as an iPhone.

Let's be honest - Android isn't quite iPhone, especially in the 3D games department.  But why do we cheer for Android?  Let's start with what's new in Android 2.0...

Google released their Android 2.0 software development kit (SDK) last month, lovingly named Eclair, to developers. Eclair boasts many new interface options upon release. Device synchronisation and Bluetooth technology are among some of the popular features that Android 2.0 developers can expect to get their hands on. But perhaps the most exciting feature is the new multitouch interaction.

This is definitely not the first time that multitouch technology has made headlines, but it very well may be the biggest. Adding multitouch technology to Google's Android 2.0 OS opens up an entire world of possibilities for interface developers to improve current UI experiences. It also means that we can expect newer and more creative interfaces once Andriod 2.0 hits later this year. Beyond every-day application use, we are also incredibly hopeful that this multitouch technology will quickly make its way into the mobile gaming market.

Even the most popular portable gaming platforms, including Sony's Playstation Portable (PSP) and Nintendo's wildly popular DS, may soon feel pressure from Google's new Android 2.0 OS. The Nintendo DS, which sold successfully as the first portable video game system that fully employed touchscreen technology, suffers from the limitation of a single stylus pointing device. Though hundreds of games have found entertaining and creative ways to utilize this technology, they have had to rely perhaps too heavily on additional gestures (tapping, swiping, spinning, etc...) in situations where having a multitouch experience would be ideal.

Multitouch gaming would be an especially welcome improvement to Android's mobile game market for current interfaces that have to divide control between the touchscreen and a device's physical keys. For example, a directional pad might be well emulated within the touchscreen area, but additional play buttons must be mapped to keys on a number pad or other physical keys. If Google's Eclair and Android 2.0 are as well received as the industry currently predicts, the mobile gaming industry may very well explode into new and exciting directions. The possibility of standardizing a multitouch game market that is open to ALL developers, regardless of their device, is the exact moment we've been waiting for.

Read on for our gaming impressions of Android - (continued on next page)

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