I hope you’ve already read the ‘warning’ article I posted last week because unfortunately, the Aava phone isn’t something we can review or draw any conclusions from. It’s a developer platform, a demonstrator and a showcase item. It’s using beta hardware and pre-Alpha software too so if you’re expecting something shiny at this stage, I’m sorry that this article will probably disappoint you. If you see others drawing conclusions based on their (or this) hands-on, you should also treat them as inconclusive. It’s just too early to tell.
At best, I can highlight the platform for potential ISVs, OEMs, competitors, integrators, carriers and Linux distributors and maybe mention something about the direction of the handheld UX (user experience) for MeeGo but both hardware and software are likely to change drastically before launch in Q4. It would be great for our traffic and links if we were to trumpet a breakthrough in processing power and UI but I’m sorry, you’re going have to wait until we see real products before that happens. I know, I’ll never be a real journalist ;-)
I want to thank Intel Europe before going any further though. (You can follow their Atom-related work on Twitter) They’ve been open about their work with the platform and respect to them for giving early-stage prototypes out to a blogger. There’s always a big risk in doing that. We remain in good contact with the Intel teams and will do further testing in due course.
So on to the ‘product’ then. Using the Intel Moorestown platform, the Aava phone at least highlights how small a ‘PC’ can be. It’s a truly pocketable size and comes with all that you would expect from a smartphone; Capacitive screen, camera, stereo speakers, Micro-SD and Micro USB and a 5.5Wh battery. We would have liked to have got into the command-line to check out some more hardware and battery usage information but in the limited time we had, it wasn’t possible. What we did do though was check out the pre-Alpha (developers) build of MeeGo 1.1 It’s the first time we’ve been able to touch the UI and to get an idea of the look and feel and although it doesn’t bring anything dramatically new in terms of layout, it builds on intuitive swipes and taps to make a UI that was simple to understand. A home-screen where presumably you’ll find widgets, presents a small launcher bar for some favorite apps and the application list itself. This second-layer application pane is similar to Android and forces the user, in many cases, to have to unlock, open the application pane, find the application and then launch it which is one layer of UI deeper than you’ll find on the iPhone. It makes way for an active homescreen though. We weren’t able to experience notifications on this version of MeeGo.
Not much is working on this build and most applications are placeholders but we got to check out the dialer application (phone stack didn’t appear to be functional), some settings (WiFi was working) and the Firefox Mobile browser which has potential to be a very high quality browser if startup and page view times can be improved. The recent build for Maemo includes some really advanced features which weren’t working on this MeeGo build.