I’ve been hoping for sometime that an Android phone would come to AT&T (since I’m still under contract). I’ve been using an iPhone since 2008 (I’ve got a 3G – and I skipped the update to 3GS figuring I might upgrade this summer).
I’ve been using the Nexus One for about a day. I figure I’ll document my very first day, and then if I stay organized I’ll update down the road with an overview of what happens as I get a little more comfortable with the platform.
The first thing that really hit me was how much the iPhone has shaped how I think things should work. That doesn’t mean they got everything right, but it was amazing how many times I tried to do something the way I would on the iPhone.
Just some simple background to level set. I run Linux most of the time. I boot Windows to play games, edit video, and sync iTunes (once in a great while – several times triggered by the iPhone losing its mind because made the mistake of downloading podcasts directly to the iPhone – rant for another day). The iPhone is really neat. The apps are great. The ecosystem drives me nuts. I am constantly reminded that I’m not the target customer for iPhone. I’m hoping that Android is different on this front.
My first task was getting my contacts setup. Turned out it was pretty easy to do. I just logged into my Google account and started typing in contacts. As I added them on the site, they just showed up on my phone – nice!
I was pretty confused by the app layout. The apps seems to be randomly sprinkled across the screen. When I found the grid button I found a bunch of apps that weren’t on any screen. A little confusing at first, but it was a useful discovery. Especially since all the apps I downloaded end up in this app limbo.
My first task was just to replicate the apps I have on my iPhone onto the Android. I was able to find FourSquare, Evernote, Seesmic (for twitter), Facebook, Phoneflic (netflix queue), AroundMe, LinkedIn (beta), USAA, and TED. I found a couple of apps for video, podcasting, and stocks. Some apps were unavailable – 1Password, PuzzleQuest, Plants vs Zombies, Southwest, Mint.com, and Godaddy. That was the list of apps I really wanted. I guess this is a side effect of have 40,000 apps compared to 120,000 on iPhone. Plus the Android platform is still working on traction. Not the end of the world.
I haven’t gotten to usic or video today – I had work to do.
Things I Like
Wicked fast – everything about it seems really fast. I didn’t get to use the 3GS but this is way better than my 3G experience.
Micro USB charging cable – just like my kindle. Yea for standards!
MicroSD card for memory. It shipped with a 4GB – I bought a 16GB for $40. They have announced 32GB cards (starting at $200 but that will drop). Meaning you get to expand capacity without throwing your phone out – I’m all for less ewaste.
I like the combination of a home grid that lets you see all your apps alphabetically. That is seriously handy (since I sometimes misplace apps on my iPhone). The page layout is a little confusing since they just sprinkled apps around instead of organizing them.
The text message app doesn’t just correct you, it also shows you several options so you can just pick the word you are going for (reminds me of T9). This is nicer than the iPhone auto correction because you get a little more control over the correction.
Start an app – navigate to a screen – hit home. Come back to the app, and you will be exactly where you were. On the iPhone, all the apps seem to start over from scratch when you start them.
Things I Find Annoying
It is an iPhone/iPod world. My new Cube only integrates with an iPod/iPhone – no option for integrating in my phone. The Bluetooth pairing with the phone system also seems wonky – it thinks its paired but it doesn’t play over the hands free. I don’t know if this is a problem with Android or my car – either way it worked with the iPhone – and it doesn’t now… annoying.
Want to turn on the phone on to make a call or check in on FourSquare – you are probably going to press the big glowing trackball at the bottom of the phone. Keep pressing because it doesn’t do anything. THe only way to activate the phone is the power button on the top. That means you have to have to hold the phone awkwardly if you want to turn it on with one hand and the use it.
The support for Gmail/Calendaring is great. The only annoying thing is I have a personal and business Google Apps account. The phone handles the mail well, but falls down on calendaring. It refuses to sync calendars from both accounts. I can share my business calendar with my personal account, but it won’t let me create events on the shared calendar. On the iPhone I was able to add each calendar account separately so I didn’t have this problem.
SMS messages make a single tone then don’t remind you. Also they put a very tiny icon notification on the top of the screen – meaning I missed several SMS messages before I realized what was going on. Seriously annoying. Turns out you can get an app that will pop them up so you can see them. This appears to be an important part of the lesson for Android. On the iPhone – they say – “There’s an app for that”. On Android, when there is something wrong with the OS there may be an app for that. I didn’t expect so much of the system to be up for grabs in that way.
It has a trackball – I’m not sure why. I’m sure I’ll figure out – I mean it must have been expensive to put it there.
There are five little silk screens buttons along the bottom of the screen. I manage to hit one of them when I type about every 2 minutes. This dumps me out of the app – grrr. (At least it is easy to get back to where I was since they keep state)
Where does that leave me – so far it has some rough edges. That isn’t totally surprising – Apple is seriously good an polishing things to a nice shine. I figure I’ll give it some time and find some more apps. If it follows the path of most of the other open source stuff I use – it starts powerful and terrible – and gets more powerful and less terrible all the time.