A few weeks ago, my wife and I decided to ditch our Iphones and head over to the other side – Android. Bye Iphone – Hello Android.
We had to wait almost 2 weeks to get our two phones. My wife picked the Motorola Droid X and I went with the HTC Incredible. The Droid X is a nice phone, but it was simply too big for my taste. The Incredible took the longest to arrive. Apparently, they are having some issues with screen inventory for that device (Samsung makes their screens).
We get the phones. Mine activates easily with Verizon. My wife’s did not and it took me 40 minutes on the phone with Verizon to get it to activate.
So, the question is: Do I like it? Coming from a walled garden like the Iphone and heading into a completely different operating system, am I hating it or loving it?
The short answer is that I’m really enjoying Android and I’m glad I made the switch. But, there are certainly benefits to both.
The thing about the Iphone is that it IS a walled garden. Nothing makes it onto the Iphone without Apple’s blessing. Sometimes they don’t let things onto the Iphone for reasons that I don’t agree with. A big example is Google Voice, because it was the lack of Voice integration with the Iphone that ultimately caused me to jump ship.
The walled garden approach has its strengths, though. The Iphone experience is certainly more orderly. The OS is super clean. The App Store is super clean and there is a level of trust there because all the apps are screened (even though stuff gets through sometimes). It is super easy to buy apps in the App Store because Apple has your credit card number on file. It has more apps.
Now, on the Android, when you come from the Iphone, it seems disorderly at first. Things just make sense on the Iphone, but once you get into Android you have to go through that initial shock of everything just being… different. In almost all cases, though, “different” evolves into “breath of fresh air”.
Let’s look at what I can do with this phone that I cannot with the Iphone:
- Multi-tasking. Real, true-blood multi-tasking and not the pseudo multi-tasking in iOS. I can run Seesmic in the background and get notification of DMs automatically. I can run Pandora in the background easily (although now you can do that on iOS, too). I can run anything anytime, and this really improves the workflow of the phone. Obviously, it does come with a tradeoff. The battery life is indeed impacted when you run more apps. Also, while Android does a great job managing multiple apps in memory, most apps have no “quit” option. So, you end up having to download an app from the marketplace to quit apps.
- Google Voice. I now have full integration and am actually using my Google Voice number as my main number. All my out-going calls on this phone are calling from my Voice number and not my Verizon number. Using Voice also means that I have visual voice mail (which Verizon charges extra for) and free SMS (which Verizon also charges for). Score.
- Flash. I didn’t even really think about it until I happened upon a website on the phone and thought, “Is this in Flash?” And, yes, it was. No Flash on iOS and I doubt there ever will be.
- Cloud Operation. Meaning, I don’t have to plug this phone into any desktop-bound application to do ANYTHING. Screw you, Itunes. Itunes is actually a great audio library app, but being forced to use it for backups and syncing is just stupid. Itunes should never have been employed for such things. Android does everything through the cloud.
- Turn-by-Turn GPS For Free. Yet another thing you cannot do with the Iphone. With Android, I can use Google Maps to do some really impressive turn-by-turn navigation. It has views that you can’t even do on a Garmin.
- Widgets. I hate them on a desktop, but on a phone, they have usability. For example, I can quickly view my todo list from Remember The Milk by simply placing a RTM widget on the phone. Handy.
The drawbacks I’ve found so far are:
- Podcasting and Music more difficult. While I hate using Itunes for syncing, it is a great music app. And it is very convenient to be able to easily put podcasts and music onto the Iphone that way. With Android, it is more disorganized. Sure, I can plug the phone into the computer, use it as an external drive and drag MP3 files over to it. But, that’s annoying, too. I know this can be done (and I plan to give DoubleTwist a try).
- Different contact databases. Being that I am a Mac user, I do have the Address Book and I have contacts in it. For the Iphone, it all gets carried over easily. Android, however, uses Google Contacts. I don’t mind that at all, however it does mean I have two different places now for contacts. Which is weird.
All in all, I’m digging Android and I’m not missing the Iphone at all.
As I said before, upgrading my Iphone to the 4th generation gave me no capabilities that I needed. Switching to Android did. So, here I am.
I’ll be covering these two areas here on PCMech. There is a LOT happening in the world of mobile and I believe this is where the industry is heading.