THE BLOG
11/30/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

I've Seen The New Google Phone (And It's The Droid)

Last summer I wrote a post entitled "Will Verizon Get The iPhone?" in which I argued the point that at some point in 2010 the iPhone will make its way onto the Verizon network.

After using the new Motorola Droid on the Verizon network for a couple of weeks, the iPhone's appearance may be a moot point. I am not a big fan of Verizon nor Motorola, but the Droid may be a game changer for both companies for one big reason. Google.

The Droid's integration with Google's services is airtight, which makes sense as Google's input into the Droid's design was prominent, as evidenced by the back of the phone which reads "Verizon with Google."

If you are a heavy user of Gmail, which I am, that's reason enough to consider the Droid. The interface on the Droid is arguably more functional than the standard web Gmail interface on my Mac.

Photos on the 5MP camera can be immediately shared with Google's Picasa. Google Docs (the spreadsheet and word processing cloud app) works well, and Google Listen, which is a podcast retrieval and listening app, has replaced the iPod for me for that function.

The Droid also features Voice Search, which works well about 80% of the time. If I speak "Navigate to Home Depot" into the phone, turn by turn driving directions pop up. As expected, the Google Maps app is flawless. There goes my TomTom.

If you're lucky enough to have a Google Voice account, the Droid integrates hand in glove with that service, even allowing you to route all your outgoing calls through Google Voice, which is desirable for international calls. The iPhone blocks this feature. Google Voice also automatically transcribes your voice mails and sends them to Gmail, with pretty good accuracy. For free. To me that's "visual voicemail."

Augmented reality apps are also quickly making their way onto the device. With Google Sky Maps, you point your Droid into the night sky and the stars and planets you are pointing at are identified, courtesy GPS and the phone's compass and accelerometer. Beware showing this app to a child, because you won't see your Droid again for hours.

What I've noticed in using the Droid is that, out of all the apps available for it, the only non-Google apps I use are Kayak and Voice Recorder, which integrates with, you guessed it, Gmail.

Is the Droid an iPhone killer? I don't know, but if your life revolves heavily around Google's many different apps, it is an optimal device.

Google is rumored to be coming out with their own branded phone, allegedly designed by HTC, to be sold through standard retail outlets, and possibly carrier independent. It will also let you make Google Voice calls through wifi.

But for now, I've seen the Google Phone. It works well, as you would expect from a company like Google. And it's the Droid.