Hands-On with Sprint ID for Android [With Video]

Yesterday afternoon, Sprint announced “Sprint ID”, a new service that they’d be putting on their Android phones. It’s a bit of a weird concept to explain in a few sentences, but here goes: at any time, you can pick up to 5 IDs (read: themes) for your phone. Each ID comes pre-packed with apps, games, ringtones, and wallpapers that ought to fit their respective theme. The “Oprah” theme might come with a ringtone of the Oprah theme and some Oprah-appoved apps, for example, while the “EA Games” theme could come with Sims wallpapers and EA game demos.

For the power-user-types that read blogs like this one, the idea might seem a bit crazy. You read the reviews, you sift through the charts — you know exactly what you want. Unfortunately, most people probably don’t. A big ol’ chunk of the Android userbase is made up of those making their first trip out of the feature-phone world — and for them, the Android Market can be a bit daunting. That’s where ID comes in.

In other words: Sprint ID isn’t for me. It’s probably not for you, either. It’s for the lady down the street whose kid bought her an Android phone and didn’t think to explain things. It’s for the guy next door who signs his name on the end of every text. It’s for that person whose had their phone for a month, and still doesn’t understand what an “App” is. It’s not for the hardcore type — and with Android getting more popular, more common, and cheaper every day, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

From the demo Sprint gave us earlier, Sprint ID seems like a pretty fantastic idea that has been executed almost as well. You can take bits and pieces from each ID and combine them together, or just default to your own, uninfluenced ID. Make too many customizations to your default ID? Delete it, then download a completely clean, untouched ID from the repository and start afresh. Switching between IDs takes about 15-20 seconds, and downloading new ones seemed to take just a minute or two depending on the connection.

In my first post about Sprint ID, I mentioned two things that would ruin the whole thing for me: if Sprint tried to replace the default Android Market with this, and if Sprint only opened this up to big name partners with cash to throw around. Neither of those seem to be the case. Sprint says they have no intention to remove the Android Market or replace it with Sprint ID, and that anyone who can build an Android app should be able to build and submit an ID of their own. Sprint says they’ll be revealing more details about that process at their M2M Collaboration Center event in Burlingame later this month.

Let us know your thoughts down in the comments. Would you use Sprint ID?