Like other phones in the Galaxy S series, the Samsung Captivate runs on Android 2.1 with Samsung's TouchWiz 3.0 interface. Samsung has promised an Android 2.2 (Froyo) update and support for Adobe Flash 10.1 for the Captivate and the rest of the Galaxy S series. At the time of this writing, the 2.2 update for the Captivate had not been released.
In addition to the four capacitive touch buttons below the Captivate's screen, each Home screen provides access to the Phone, Email, Browser, and Applications via four non-movable shortcuts. If you're in the Applications menu, you'll notice this latter shortcut changes to Home. You can change these shortcuts to any icon that is displayed in the Applications menu.
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The Captivate offers three software keyboards: a Samsung keyboard, the standard Android keyboard, and the SWYPE keyboard. The Captivate defaults to the Samsung keyboard which lacks a button to invoke Google's voice-to-text system.
Samsung's TouchWiz interface adds some customizations to the phone. One of these customizations that we found to be very handy was in the contacts application using swipe gestures. By swiping your finger to the right on a contact, you'll call that person. By swiping to the left, you'll send a text message to that same person. It's a feature that makes sending texts and making calls easier and we liked using it.
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The application menu on the Captivate provides a grid view of all of your applications. To scroll between application pages, swipe your finger from side to side across the screen. This is different from some Android phones where you scroll vertically.
It seems that we're starting to see bloatware pre-installed on more and more phones these days. Unfortunately, the Samsung Captivate is no exception. This phone has a number of apps that you probably won't use such as AT&T Navigator which costs about $10 per month. Since Google Navigation is available via the Google Maps application for free, we suspect most users won't find the need to subscribe to the AT&T Navigator service. You'll also find AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Hot Spots, AT&T Maps, AT&T Music, AT&T Navigator, and AT&T Radio in the first 6 of 7 application spots on the first page of apps. Although you can't categorize the applications into folders, you can reorder them or view an alphabetized list view of all apps.
You can always add additional apps from the Android Market, but AT&T has blocked the ability to install applications from anywhere other than the Android Market. This will likely frustrate geeks who want complete control over their phones, particularly since other carriers don't put the same restrictions on their Android phones.
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Like some of the other popular Android phones on the market today, the Captivate offers seven customizable home screens. You can rearrange and delete home screens as you like. To jump between home screens, you simply swipe your finger across the screen. There are seven small dots at the top of the screen that indicate which screen you're on. These dots also let you jump quickly between screens. To access six of the applications you've most recently used, you can press and hold the Home button.
In addition to the standard widgets that come with the Android platform, Samsung has included seven of its own widgets with the Captivate including Buddies Now, Calendar Clock, Daily Briefing, Days, Dual Clock, Feeds and Updates, and Y! Finance Clock. Buddies Now is similar to a favorites list. It keeps your contact and social network favorites on a circular Rolodex-like display. Anytime a contact that is synchronized with your social networking applications updates his status, the information and pictures will also be updated on Buddies now. Feeds and Updates pulls feeds and updates from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter into a single location.