Communication Apps

The whole point of a cellphone is to enhance communications, so it comes as no surprise that this is one area where Android has well-established, highly useful applications already available. The Google suite of tools are highly integrated and easy to use, and provide useful information whenever it becomes available through the novel and well-designed Android notification system.

■ Gmail—What can we say about Gmail other than that it will likely become your favorite Android cellphone application? The "right now" nature of email constantly commands your attention (for better or worse), and with its tight integration with the Android notification panel, Gmail is a perfect balance of form and function. As with most advanced applications that run on Android, what you see on the screen is the culmination of a lot of hard work that the Gmail servers have done in the background.

Email is a highly abused medium, and the job of filtering spam isn't an easy task. Google's algorithms for this filtering task are highly sophisticated, and the pleasing result is not having to wade through so many unimportant emails every time you interact with the system. When it comes to software design, Google leaves the hard work to the Internet servers.

■ Webkit Browser—When most people think of the Internet, it's usually in the form of the World Wide Web on a web browser. The web browser built into Android is the Webkit Browser. This powerful application is ideally suited—and was designed for—small display devices. The code base for the Webkit Browser is essentially Apple Computing's Safari browser. (You can read more about this particular advanced application in Chapter 12, "Developing Mobile Web Applications.")

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