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Google Phone Lauded, But Told Could Be Better

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Nice try with the new phone, Google. Better luck next time. Reuters reports that's what some seem to be saying about Google's first foray into the world of cell phones. But while it may not attract long lines like Apple Inc's. iPhone, it offers much to those looking to use their phones for more than talking.

So what's it like? The G1, which is made for Google by HTC Corpand sold by Deutsche Telekom AG unit T-Mobile, actually resembles an older handset -- the Sidekick, a soapbar-shaped phone also created by G1 designer Andy Rubin, the father of Google's Android mobile operating system. It has touch-screen controls, and a miniature computer keyboard that is uncovered by sliding the screen out.

This means a chunkier gadget than the svelte iPhone.

But it makes for a more familiar typing experience for consumers who dislike iPhone's virtual keypad, especially for typing longer notes.

The G1, which was greeted with cheers when it was unveiled in New York on Tuesday, shares many functions with iPhone -- a full web browser, an online market to buy games and software, and a music player. This will work in its favor for shoppers whose expectations from Google weren't as lofty.

Experts were not as giddy. Some analysts noted its lack of some typical smartphone features such as corporate e-mail and companion desktop software.

"This is an important device, but there has to be more to it," Michael Gartenberg a Jupitermedia analyst who described the phone as "a good first step" after the launch, even as he created a checklist of what he wants for the next versions.

Upcoming versions of the phone could have a completely new user interface, as Google has opened the operating system to outside developers. Both T-Mobile USA and HTC already have plans to offer more phones based on the Google systems. Reuters has more