Google Voice: Free, unlimited calling on your cell/mobile phone!

Share

Google Voice

If you use more minutes per month than the minimum plan your cell provider offers, meaning you’re paying more than the minimum, here’s a way to use the same minutes, but pay less.

  1. If you don’t have one already, signup for a new Google Voice account (it’s free) at http://google.com/voice.  (I’m not going to provide a full tutorial on Google voice in this article).
  2. In the upper right, choose “Settings”, then “Voice Settings”.
    • image
  3. On the “Phones” tab, create a new phone number (you’ll do this only once and you’ll have to pay $10 to change it later, if you choose to, so pick wisely!).
  4. Add your mobile number.  Be sure to verify your mobile number (wherever you use it, use the full area code or the verification will fail!).
    Edit the mobile number.

Disclaimer about the word “Free”:

When I say calls are “free”, I mean, you’ll still pay your monthly fees to your cell provider, but you can downgrade to their smallest minutes plan and none of your calls will be used against your minutes.  Although, with Verizon, on their smallest minute plan, they don’t allow you to add “Friends and Family” numbers to it (read below), so you’ll have to determine how many total minutes you use and if it’s more than Verizon’s minimum of 550 or so minutes, then you’ll need the next package up so you CAN have a “Friends and Family” deal.

Now, the next steps are different depending on whether or not your cell phone platform has a native Google Voice app for it.  If you have an Android or Blackberry phone, you’re in luck.  If not, skip this section and go to “For Non-Android and Non-Blackberry phones”.

Free calls for Android and Blackberry:

  1. Download and install the Google Voice app for your Android or Blackberry phone using the marketplace for your respective handset.
  2. Configure your Google Voice app on your phone by telling it your mobile # and your Google Voice #, your Google voice login, etc…
  3. Choose whether or not you want all outbound calls to use Google Voice all the time, to ask you each time, or to never use Google Voice (don’t choose “never”!).  Then go to Google Voice settings on your phone and set your preferences for outbound calling.  I recommend “ask every time”.
  4. Test an outbound call now.  You’re probably sitting next to your home or office phone right now.  Call it from your mobile.  BE SURE to enter the area code or the Google Voice app will NOT intervene and it WILL go out normally (not using Google Voice).  Your home or office phone should ring and should be showing your new Google Voice # in caller ID.  If so, continue on…
  5. Contact your cell phone provider and add your Google Voice # to your Friends and Family plan.
  6. Give out your Google Voice # to all your contacts and tell them to stop calling your old cell #.
  7. If you have an Android app, download the app “GVMyNumber”.  This will force outbound calls to call your own Google Voice # first, and have it place the outbound call on your behalf.  From your cell provider’s point of view, you’re calling your Google Voice # (which they only see as some other phone number that you call a lot).
  8. If you’re OK with losing caller ID for incoming calls in place of FREE incoming calls, then using the GV web site (http://google.com/voice):
    1. Click on Settings in the upper right hand corner, then “Voice Settings”.
    2. Click on the “Calls” tab.
    3. In “Caller ID (in)”, change it to “Display my Google Voice number”.

Set 8 causes all incoming calls to appear to be from your Google Voice #, so since it’s on your Friends and Family plan, it’s free!  All inbound calls will be free!

For Non-Android and Non-Blackberry phones:

If you don’t have an Android or a Blackberry phone, there’s no official, native app for your phone from Google.  Browse the web though, you might get lucky and find one made from an independent developer.  If you have an iPhone, your SOL because Apple has such a closed system, they’ll never allow such an app.  Google did write one, but Apple refuses to let it into the iPhone app store.  For iPhone and all other phones that have no native app, here’s how to make all your calls free:

  1. Contact your cell phone provider and add your Google Voice # to your Friends and Family plan.
  2. Give out your Google Voice # to all your contacts and tell them to stop calling your old cell #.
  3. For outbound calls, call your own Google Voice #.  Follow the “Google Voice” voice menus to make an outbound call.  You’ll do this step for every outbound call.
  4. For incoming calls, if you’re OK with losing caller ID for incoming calls in place of FREE incoming calls, then (you’ll do this just once) using the GV web site (http://google.com/voice):
    1. Click on Settings in the upper right hand corner, then “Voice Settings”.
    2. Click on the “Calls” tab.
    3. In “Caller ID (in)”, change it to “Display my Google Voice number”.

Conclusion:

Now everyone will be calling your Google Voice # and your phone will be receiving the calls with your own Google Voice # in the Caller ID, causing your cell provider to count that call in your “Friends and Family” plan.  For your outgoing calls, as long as you call your own Google Voice # to place the call for you, those will also be included in your free “Friends and Family” plans.  Now, no calls will use up your minutes.

Not only that, but you’ll get all the other cool features of Google Voice like:

  • Call screening (optionally, make people state their name before the phone rings to you, then you decide whether or not to answer or send them to v-mail).
  • V-Mail screening (You can listen, live, to people leaving you voice mail and cut in to answer… just like your old answering machine from the late 80’s and early 90’s.
  • Free SMS Texing!
  • Listen to your voice mail from any browser.
  • Text messages copied to your e-mail.
  • Reply to text messages from e-mail.
  • View your text messages in a browser.
  • Send text messages from a browser.
  • Automatic transcribing of v-mail.
  • Transcribed voice-mail e-mailed to you.
  • Record your phone calls.
  • Ring multiple phones simultaneously.
  • Ring multiple phones, one at a time, until someone answers.
  • Create groups of contacts and give each group a customized v-mail greeting.
  • Plenty more.
Share

Nokia Nuron 4230 Cell Phone Review

Share

image

First Impressions

First, let me say that I’m very active on the Google+ social network.  Click here to follow and interact with me on Google+.

This phone is NOT classified as a “smart phone” and therefore does not require a data plan.  It actually is a smart phone, but I’ll get to that in a moment.  My first impressions with this phone were completely false.  I didn’t consider this phone for myself, but my wife and kids just wanted a phone and my daughter’s only requirement was that it provide texting.  I wasn’t even going to consider this phone for even those simple tasks because it looked like a really cheapo knock-off with less than basic features and a seemingly fake UI screen and a proprietary OS without even the possibility to download apps or write apps.

Boy was I wrong!!!  Read below for the details.

Hardware Durability

This phone is small and feels very light.  It feels like a cheap phone.  But, that’s just because of it’s light weight.  It’s just perception.

Ease of Use

Using the phone for standard voice calls is straight forward.  The phone is actually a small computer (like other smart phones) that also has voice capabilities.  It’s screen is fairly high resolution and surprisingly, has a full GUI with icons and a touch screen interface, video keyboard (like a phone’s number pad with letters on it), and a full QWERTY keyboard when you rotate the phone to landscape mode.

Features

Screen:  It has a small 3.2” screen, but a decent resolution for such a low cost phone at 640×360!  It’s more than good enough for decent web browsing and games.

OS:  Some kind of proprietary Nokia OS.  I’ve been unable to find out what the name of this OS is, but it’s unlikely that you’re familiar with it.  It’s not Windows Mobile, or iOS, nor Android.  In most cases, if it’s not one of those three, I’d recommend staying away from it, but for how cheap this phone is and how powerful it is, I’ll make an exception for this phone.

The screen is a touch sensitive screen.  It does NOT do multi-touch though.  The GUI has a nice vibration feedback when you touch an item that the phone registers as a menu selection or icon or menu selection.  This feels especially good when dialing on the video keyboard.

Networking:  You can purchase an unlimited data plan for this phone for a low cost of $10/mo.  One of the great things about this phone is that it has all the features of a smart phone, but isn’t classified as one so you get 2 great side effects of that:

  1. You don’t have to buy a data plan if you don’t want to.
  2. If you do want to buy a data plan, it’s 1/3 the cost of a data plan for a so called “smart phone”.

If you don’t have a data plan, there’s no other “supported” way to get to the internet, unlike other phones where you can plug them into your PC’s USB port and borrow your PC’s internet connection, or use your wireless LAN.  But, there are some hacks to use the Bluetooth wireless connection to hop onto your PC’s internet connection.  This phone does NOT have wireless LAN hardware.

Pre-Installed Software:  There are a few games pre-installed and plenty more to download.  As a matter of fact, to my surprise, there’s a vibrant app developer community writing plenty of apps for this phone including games and utilities.  Amazingly, one of the apps built into the phone is a very nice GPS navigation application with turn by turn directions.  The maps are already pre-installed in the phone so you don’t need an internet connection (unlike Android phones).  The GPS navigator app works surprisingly well.  It’s good enough to replace your stand-alone GPS device.  Of course, you’ve got your contacts list, calculator, calendar, phone, camera, gallery, etc…

GPS:  As mentioned above, this device has a built in GPS and GPS navigation software built in.  It’s pretty high quality for what you expect out of a $72 phone.

Compass:  Not sure on this one.  Stay tuned.  I’ll find out and update this article.

Accelerometer:  Like the iPhone and Android phones, this “discount bin” phone has an accelerometer and many games and apps take advantage of it.  The screen automatically adjusts between portrait or landscape depending on which way you hold it.

Phone:  Of course, it makes phone calls.  The video keyboard is really nice with the vibration feedback as your touch dial.

Wireless LAN:  This model does NOT have home wireless LAN capability.

BlueTooth:  Bluetooth is built in, so you should be able to pair this phone with just about any standard Bluetooth devices.

Micro USB:  This phone uses the standard Micro USB connector for charging and data sync with your PC.  It comes with a 3” Micro USB cable to connect it to your PC.  Your phone essentially becomes a USB flash drive dongle.  The power adapter does not use the USB port though.

Memory:

Battery:  70MB internal memory.  Comes with a 4GB MicroSD card, upgradable to 16GB.

Outlook Sync:  It can sync with Outlook, but I’ve not been able to do this yet.  Stay tuned and I’ll update this article.

E-Mail:  If you have a data plan, you can send and receive e-mail from this device and I think it’ll sync your e-mail with Outlook.  We’re not using this feature, so I can’t give you any more specifics.

Web:  It has a decent little web browser built in.  Of course, if you don’t have a data plan, it’s useless.  I don’t have a data plan with any of these phones on my plan, so I’ve not been able to test all the features (JavaScript, proper rendering, video playback, audio playback, etc…)

Tethering:  YES!

Data Plan:  Not required, but with T-Mobile, you can get an unlimited data plan for $10/mo which lets you download apps from the app store, browse the web, and lets your apps access the internet, Oh! and e-mail too, of course.

Still Shot Camera:  2 megapixel camera.  The pictures look pretty decent.  Of course, this is not to be used as your primary camera, but it is pretty decent for most candid type shots.

Video Camera:  Shoots 640×480 at 3 fps.

Texting:  Of course.

Software Development:  C++ using Nokia’s SDK.  You request the SDK from them and I believe there’s a $99 registration fee.

Conclusion:

At first glance, I thought this phone was complete junk, but after looking at it and playing around with it, this is one of those secret golden treasures that you kind of want to keep to yourself so nobody else spoils it.  But I’ve gotta tell ya, I was more than pleasantly surprised by the capabilities of this phone… so much so that I got THREE of them for my wife and kids.  They have been using them for about 3 weeks now and are all very very happy with them (and this is WITHOUT a data plan!)

This phone is by far the best bang for your buck you’re going to find.  It has almost all the features of the high-end, expensive phones.  It’s a smart phone that’s not classified as one and therefore your data options are greater and cheaper.  If you don’t want to spend big bucks on a phone and continuous, expensive monthly data fees, but you still want the features of a high-end smart phone, you can’t beat this phone with a stick.

Click here to follow me on Google+.

See this image? image_thumb26
You’ll find an actual working version of it at the bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article so they too can fire their phone company.

Check back later for updates too

Good Luck!

Share

OS = Operating System

Share

An “Operating System” is special software that runs on a computer that is required for the computer’s basic operations like displaying information on the screen, booting up the machine, reading and writing to and from the disk drives, launching programs, forcing programs to share time and memory on the computer, providing security, as well as controlling the hardware devices connected to the computer system.

Share

UI = User Interface

Share

The acronym “UI” stands for User Interface.  It’s usually used in the context of computer software to talk about the on screen display and how the user interacts with the software.  For modern operating systems, most provide a graphical user interface (GUI) that provides push buttons, check boxes, etc… All the stuff you’re used to if you use a Windows machine or a Mac and even most flavors of Linux.  Most modern cell phones now have GUIs too.  Not all UIs are slick GUIs though.  Prior to Windows and Mac were console applications that provided only text displays and usually presented the user with a list of options in a “menu” of choices with numbers beside each option and a flashing cursor waiting for the user to type the number of the option they wanted.  User interfaces aren’t required to be “visual” either.  For example, your cell phone or your GPS may have voice recognition and voice playback.  That is a form of a user interface (UI) that is audio based.

Share

“Hello World”

Share

“Hello World” is the name for the most basic program that a programmer will write when learning a new language or a new programming platform.  It generally consists of the application doing nothing more than displaying the text “Hello World” on the display device supported by the platform, be it a web page, a console, a printer, a cell phone screen, a Window on a Mac, Windows, or Linux box.

This is standard practice for programmers and is expected in tutorials for programmers for new platforms and languages.

Share

T-Mobile’s MyTouch 3G Slide Android Review

Share

image

First Impressions

The Android OS based MyTouch 3G Slide from T-Mobile looks decent and feels like a quality piece of hardware in your hands.  It’s got the right weight to it.  It does NOT feel like a cheap, flimsy phone.  The slide out keyboard slides well and still feels sturdy while out.  The keys on the physical QWERTY keyboard are easy to read, are back-lit, have plenty of space between them, reducing fat-fingering typos.  The screen appears to be very high res. (the actual resolution is 320×480, but I swear, it seems like it’s much higher, and I’m a stickler for that particular spec!)  The user interface feels very responsive.  It comes pre-installed with plenty of applications like a bar code scanner that identifies products and finds the best prices online and locally, GPS navigation, GPS maps, and the standard contacts and such you’d expect, plus plenty of other apps.

It’s got so much bundled with it, it took me about 2 weeks of heavy use to get familiar with most everything it has (with a few things still yet to be explored).

Even though this is one of T-Mobile’s top of the line phones, it’s not the highest spec Android phone out there (Sprints Evo 4G and Verizon’s Droid X are far superior and more expensive).

The CPU is 600Mhz and is NOT the 1Ghz SnapDragon in the latest and greatest Android phones.  In spite of that, it is very responsive and quick.  Of course, 1Ghz will definitely be even more responsive and quicker.

Hardware Durability

One of the first things you notice when picking up a device like this is almost instantly feeling like it’s a light-weight, plastic piece of junk, or a heavy, durable piece of hardware.  This phone definitely feels like a solidly built piece of hardware.  It’s pretty heavy (not in a negative way) and just feels durable.

Ease of Use

I’d never used an Android device before I got this phone, but getting used to the different UI (User Interface) experience was fairly simple.  This particular phone doesn’t use the standard Google user interface.  It uses a modified UI.  I’ve since seen a standard Google UI and they’re nearly identical.  One disadvantage this UI has compared to the standard Google UI is this customized UI can’t have animated backgrounds.  Though animated backgrounds have a “neatness” factor to them, they DO eat up CPU cycles which reduces battery life.

One thing that was fairly difficult for me to figure out was how to kill applications since most of them don’t have an “Exit” feature.  I ended up downloading an application from the Google Marketplace to do this, “Advanced App Killer”.  You can selective kill applications.  It’s free.

Features

OS:  Google Android 2.1 (upgradable to FroYo 2.2 when T-Mobile provides an OTA (Over The Air) update, or manually from Google’s site sooner if you’re daring enough to do it yourself.

Networking:  As its name implies, it uses T-Mobile’s 3G network.  My tests while tethered to my PC showed about 1mb download and 100kb upload speed.

Pre-Installed Software:  Tons of software:  games, WebKit based web browser, YouTube native application, native Facebook app, contacts, T-Mobile application packs.  Packs Applications pre-selected by T-Mobile that you can install all at once (like video news, WeatherChannel, calculator, calendar, clock, compass, Faves (friend stream of you 15 top contacts, showing their latest photos and facebook updates), G-Mail, E-Mail, Gallery, Genius Button (unique to T-Mobile… speak what you’re looking for and it’ll find it on the web or provide directions on the GPS navigator, or find your contact), T-Mobile hot spot finder, IM app for AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Google Maps, Android Market, Messages app, MP3 store, Media Player, “My Account” to check on your data, text, and voice usage, “My Device” to show you battery power, networking options, etc…), MyModes, MyTouch, GPS Navigation, News reader, PDF viewer, Twitter app, Quick Office (I still don’t know what this is), Settings app, Setup app, ShopSavvy barcode reader, stocks app, Visual Voice-mail (which I’ve still not used because I’m still not clear on whether there’s an extra charge for this), voice recorder, and Weather app.

Of course, with the Android Market app, you can find 70,000+ applications (and rapidly growing).  In the Android world, most of these applications are free.  Most paid apps are between 99 cents and $1.99.  A few are up to $4.99.  I haven’t run across any that cost more than that (not to say there aren’t any though).

GPS:  There is a built in GPS receiver which any application that needs to read it can read it without having to do any configuration.  The pre-installed Google Navigation software works extremely well.  I used it while on vacation in St. Augustine, FL last week and didn’t have any problems with it.  It’s easy to use and the instructions are accurate.  Many apps have mapping integrated in them simply by launching the built in mapping application and sending it to the address or GPS coordinates the application specifies.  The user experience of this integration is very fluid and nice to use.

Compass:  It has the ability to read the Earth’s magnetic field and uses that in the GPS navigation application (as well as plenty of other downloadable apps make use of it).

Accelerometer:  Just like the iPhone, it can tell when you’re moving it and also senses whether you’re holding it in portrait or landscape mode and automatically adjusts the display.  This works well with the on-screen keyboard; when you turn it sideways, you get a much bigger keyboard that’s easier to work with (if you don’t have the physical keyboard pulled out, which is even better).

Phone:  Of course, since this is a phone, it has a phone app built in and works just as you’d expect.  Nothing particularly special here.  But, I’d like to point out the user experience difference for me, coming form a Windows Mobile 6.1 phone (the Verizon XV6800, and the 6.0 XV6800 and the 5.0 Palm Treo 700w):  On those Windows Mobile phones, dialing was ALWAYS a major pain because the phone app was very sluggish to respond to my on-screen key presses and I’d have to wait a good while after each key press to know if the keys were actually registered.  Most times, I’d type ahead of the Windows Mobile phone’s ability to register and it would almost always miss keys.  When you’re in a hurry to call someone, it just slows you down even more having to backspace and redo your typing and having to slow way down to ensure there’s enough time to determine if the UI accepted your key presses.  On this Android phone, they key responses are nearly instantaneous, usually registering before my finger leaves the key.  This is a MAJORLY improved experience when dialing.  Now, I can dial as I’d expect and all the frustrations with dialing on a Windows Mobile 6.1 and lower device are gone.  The phone app has a call history and contacts button.

One gripe I have with the phone app is when you receive a call, when the call ends, it gives you the opportunity to save the contact if it’s not already in your contacts list, but the opportunity to save it only lasts about 1 or 2 seconds… so far, it’s not been long enough for me to read the screen to determine what I need to do.  Once the opportunity goes away, there’s no way to get it back unless you just want to manually enter the number, which is a pain and defeats the purpose of that feature.

Wireless LAN:  Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here:  You have TWO types of “wireless data connections” which are both referred to as “Wi-Fi” in documentation.  Those two types are the over-the-air data connection that comes with your paid data plan that gives you live internet access via T-Mobile’s cell towers.  The other “Wi-Fi” is what would better be called “Wireless LAN”, which is your home wireless router (if you have one).  This phone has the ability to connect to the internet over your home wireless network.  You do NOT use your data plan when doing that and you get the full speed of your home broadband connection.  To confuse matters more, when you go out and about, some restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, etc… have wireless LANs that you can connect your notebook or phone to.  These are the same thing as your home wireless network.  Then, there are “T-Mobile Wi-Fi hot spots”, which are different than home wireless and the wireless you find in McDonald’s and StarBucks.  I’m not 100% sure, but I believe a “T-Mobile Wi-Fi hot spot” is provided at certain retailers (again, some coffee shops and such) that have T-Mobile specific hot spots that let your phone connect to it as if it were on the T-Mobile cell towers, but you don’t use your data restrictions… again, I’m not sure about this one.

Anyway, the main point of this section is to point out that you CAN connect to your home wireless network (or any that you run across at friends, family, or retailers that offer them).

BlueTooth:  As with all modern cell phones for the last 1/2 decade (at least) bluetooth is built in to allow you to connect your phone to most bluetooth devices.  Although, I was not able to get my phone connected to my TomTom Go 630.  The TomTom kept saying that my phone didn’t have the necessary features.  Curious as my 3 older (much older) Windows Mobile 5.0, 6.0, and 6.1 phones DID.

Micro USB:  The phone’s power connector is a standard Micro-USB connector.  You can also connect it to your PC via this port as well to access your saved photos, videos, and files.  Like most phones these days, it appears as a removable USB drive to your computer.  No special software is needed.

Memory:  It comes with 145MB of internal memory and an 8GB Micro SD card.  I believe it can be upgraded to up to 16GB.

Battery:  The battery seems to last a good while.  With most features on (GPS, Wireless LAN (which they call “Wi-Fi”), bright screen for outdoor use, browsing the web, taking photos and video, a full charge should last you most of the day.  In normal use, a full charge should last you 2 or 3 days.

Outlook Sync:  There’s a free PC app you can download from Google that’ll sync your phone with Microsoft Outlook and/or an Exchange server.  The phone also can automatically sync with your G-Mail accounts (you can have as many as you like) and your Google Calendar and Google Docs.

G-Mail:  This is a Google Operating System, so they provide native apps for accessing G-Mail.  All of my personal e-mail accounts are hosted on Google servers, so that’s what I use.  It works OK, but I believe that if you have mail rules set up on G-Mail to tag incoming mail, some of those won’t show up on your phone.  I still haven’t figured this out.  It’s a little weird.

E-Mail:  This app, I believe, lets you hook up to any POP3 mail server.  Since all my e-mail is through G-Mail, I haven’t tried this app since I don’t need it, but if you have e-mail hosted on non G-Mail servers and it provides you with Pop3 access, you can set it up here.

Web:  Android comes with a very nice WebKit based browser.  WebKit is the open source web page renderer that’s used in many browsers including Safari on the Mac and iPhone.  Android 2.1’s browser supports pinch to zoom and can play many of the videos you run across.  It will NOT play WMV or AVI movies nor will it play audio files or streams of WMA (Windows Media Audio) or RA (Real Audio) type.  Of course, it plays YouTube videos.  JavaScript seems to work just fine.  In Android 2.2, the JavaScript is compiled and runs many times faster than it does on Apples iOS 4.  Also, Android 2.2 will have full support for Flash (which will never be available on the iPhone).

Tethering:  Google doesn’t restrict what apps are available in the Android Marketplace, so if you want to download a tethering app to provide your notebook PC or your desktop with internet access, you can, and I have already done this since my Charter cable internet access failed for nearly a week.  It worked phenomenally well.  Using SpeedTest.NET I got nearly 1mb download speeds and 100kb upload speeds over the air: image

This was more than adequate to keep me connected to my work PC to get some real work done during my ISP outage.  Apple does NOT allow tethering applications on the iPhone.  To do that on an iPhone, you’ll HAVE to jail break your iPhone.  On an Android phone, all you need to do is download one of many available FREE tethering apps and you’re good to go!

When Android 2.2 arrives, Tethering will be built in!!!!

For the record, I want to give Windows Mobile a big plug here:  My Verizon XV6800 that I’ve had for well over 2 years has always had tethering and it works just fine too (built into the OS, BTW!!!!!).  I think Windows Mobile has gotten a bum rap.  It has been doing MANY of the things that iPhone either still doesn’t do or has only recently started doing,  in addition to WM being free to develop for with zero restrictions along with multitasking…. I’ll stop here on this rant because that’s a different topic.

Still Shot Camera:  This phone comes with a 5 megapixel camera.  It does a pretty decent job.  I was satisfied enough with it that on my recent trip to St. Augustine, I didn’t break out my Nikon CoolPix L3 5MB camera.  Here’s a sample photo.  Click the image to get the full resolution picture.  IMAG0131

Video Camera:  The camera can shoot 640×480 (roughly standard definition) video.  It’s pretty good for a phone, but certainly not a great replacement for your digital camcorder that shoots at 720×480 (for Standard Def digital camcorders) and is orders of magnitude below the quality of any HD camcorder.  But, for quick video captures for when you don’t have your real camcorder with you, it’ll do in a pinch, especially if it’s just something you want to upload to YouTube or FaceBook (which, the still shot camera and video camera app provides you the ability to share your stuff to either of those online services right after you record them).

GeoTagging:  Videos and still shots can be tagged with your GPS coordinates if you have the GPS feature enabled on your phone.

Sharing:  As stated earlier, the gallery app has a “sharing” button that lets you select photos and videos to share with your friends on YouTube, Facebook, and a number of online photo services like flickr and Picassa.  I’ve uploaded several videos and photos to both Facebook and Youtube and it works like a charm.  It’s SO MUCH easier than transferring the content to my PC, then cranking up a browser, logging it, etc… etc… to get stuff uploaded.

Internet Sharing:  When this phone is upgraded to Android 2.2 later this year, it will have the ability to be a Wi-Fi hot spot for several devices, so your notebook computer and other devices can hop on as if they’re connecting to a wireless LAN and share your phone’s internet connection!

Texting:  Of course, the phone supports texting.  I, personally, have absolutely ZERO desire for texting and actually have it completely blocked on 4 of my 5 cell phones.  My daughter is the only one with any desire for texting.  I refuse to pay $10/mo for a service on a $5 voice line when that $10 service costs the carrier thousands of times less money to provide than voice.  Additionally, I just have virtually no use for texting.  But, there’s a way to get texting FOR FREE!  Google Voice is a brand new service that you can sign up for for free and get a new phone number (keeping your old cell #).  You can install the Google Voice Android app on your phone and it will let you send and receive texts via your Google voice # (with your Android device), bypassing your phone carrier’s texting service… sending the data over the internet to and from Google servers.  The people you’re sending text to or receiving text from do nothing special and know nothing special (aside from using your Google voice # instead of your regular cell #).  So now, I have unlimited texting from my Android phone and pay ZERO for it!  Since I rarely use texting, that’s all I’m willing to pay.  But regardless of how much you use texting, FREE is always better!  So, go get it at http://google.com/voice

Software Development:  If you’re an app writer like I am, you’ll really appreciate that everything you need to develop software for an Android device is 100% free (except, of course, for the phone).  Well, that’s not exactly true, if you signed up with T-Mobile on the Saturday before Father’s day 2010, like I did, you got your Android phone for free too! 🙂  (with a 2 year contract)  Developing apps consists of downloading the Eclipse IDE (free), the Java runtime environment (free), and the Android SDK (free).  These are all available on Windows, Linux, or Mac.  Your apps are written in Java.  I’ve already downloaded all those components and have written my first “Hello World” application for Android.  It’s pretty simple and need I say it again?  It’s all FREE!  To develop for the iPhone, you have to buy an entire Mac PC!!!  Then you have to register ($99).  Then, when you submit your app to the Apple store, you have to pay an additional $99 and there’s no guarantee that they’ll accept your app.  If not, you’ll have to change it and submit it again (another $99), and repeat this process until it’s accepted.  But then, Apple may very well pull it out of the app store after it’s already been there AND they may remotely delete it from your user’s iPhone’s, requiring YOU to compensate your customers for 100% of the app costs, even though Apple has already taken 30% (and won’t refund it back to you).

Data Plan:

This phone is considered a “smart phone”.  As a result, you’re required to purchase a $30/mo unlimited data plan (on top of your voice plan).  There’s no excuse for cell phone carriers to do this.  This phone does TONS of stuff that doesn’t need an internet connection and forcing customers into an expensive data plan is just plain wrong.  There’s no other way to put it.  All the major carriers do this now and they’re all full of BS!

Conclusion:

I’m MORE than satisfied with my new Android phone.  I have no desire for an iPhone now that I’ve experienced the unrestricted capabilities of an Android device.  I can’t imagine downgrading to an iPhone with all of the restrictions Apple insists on putting on our choices and with the severe limitations of hardware options.  With Android there are dozens of manufacturers making Android devices.  The physical keyboard makes a big difference too.  I HATE video keyboards.  I battle with them every time.  The slick user interface, responsiveness, and no restrictions attitude is a big big plus.

Share