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My Love – Hate of Android

October 5, 2010

I’m a long time BlackBerry user and recently switched to Android. My trackball died, the phone was scratched up, and BB did not offer with my carrier some of the love I wanted, so I looked for an alternative. First let me say I am disappointed that BB has been slow to keep up with a worthy alternative. Second, let me say that I miss my BB. It is the perfect communication device for phone and email. If only I could get some of the Android love inside of a BB phone. Let me rant just a little about my recent experience with a state of the art Android phone. In summary, here’s what I love and hate with my new Samsung Galaxy S:

Love:

  • Web browser: There were many sites on my BB that just did not work. With Android, these 250x270_1 sites, even heavy Ajax ones, work perfectly. And the option that allows you to zoom on the text sections of a site and have the text wrap is beauty. And, I can now browse while on the phone. Love it.
  • Market apps: The app store has many free or cheap, very useful apps. I especially like options like wifi teathering from Barnacle, watching Hulu.com on the Skyfire browser and CBS shows on TV.com. These are awesome pieces of software. Some are just good time killers like Gem Miner and Paper Toss. And the ability to tweak just about everything including loading different keyboards, music players, etc are critical. Because many of the pre-loaded base applications are so sub par, the phone would be unusable without these apps.
  • Keyboard: I thought I would miss physical keys. Maybe some, but not as much as I expected. I still cannot decide if Swipe or prediction keyboards are faster. The phone came with Swipe. Currently, I’m using a prediction keyboard from Swiftkey that seems a bit more mistake proof – entry is slower, but I don’t have to start over as often.
  • Speed: 3G and wifi seem faster. Web is fast. I’m watching streaming videos and listening to streaming radio like it’s DSL. Nice.
  • Screen: Size is a beauty and touch sensitivity is great. Resolution is really good but I think my BB, though smaller, may have been higher resolution. I’d like to see a touch better res on the Galaxy without more drain on the battery.

Hate:

  • Setup: This should be as easy as entering my gmail email and password, but no. It took 2 full days of trial and error to get email and calendar and contacts all synced up. My business and personal email accounts are both through gmail, so you would think this is simple with Android. No. I needed client software to sync my Outlook to Google and it doesn’t work if my desk computer is not on. Google supplies a calendar sync client, but not a contact sync. Duplicates were generated when I loaded contacts from Outlook – hundreds of them. And, apparently, I need to load them again if I make changes. Come on! I’m still not sure I have the best email setup.  I could not get a good sync using the phone’s native email app. It reloaded emails most times I opened it causing long delays in viewing them. So, I’m using the Google gmail application. While messages arrive faster, I cannot get a common inbox, emails don’t show on the opening screen and the navigation is a cluggy. Also, no way to sync with Linked-In. Only Facebook, MySpace and Twitter – how’s that decided and why not make it open for all? Limitations in the pre-package software meant more time looking for apps to fill gaps on the calendar, phone dialer and others. This has to get better.
  • Calendar: Why don’t events let me click on contents to dial into conference calls or view web pages? No copy either. Seems so obvious, but you can’t get to any text – it’s like looking at a picture of the event invite. If anyone knows an app that fixes this, please share. And the week calendar doesn’t show separation in many time blocks that are open. When I try to see what is scheduled in a block on the weekly calendar, there is no text and there’s no section to display text if an event block is selected. It just takes me to the event detail. So dumb. And I can only sync with my personal gmail calendar. There is no option on my work domain gmail to sync calendar, only email and contacts. I had to sync from Outlook to my personal calendar, then give it access to my work calendar. So now, all my events show twice. What’s with that?
  • Dialing: Looking up a contact to dial a number is impossibly difficult. Why doesn’t the dial pad give a full QWERTY keyboard and assume that I might be looking up a contact. Instead, I have to press the contact icon then the search. Even then, for some reason (I think it searches only first names,) it doesn’t always find a match. When it does, there are two or three more clicks to dial a number.
  • Battery Life: This is the main reason I sent back my G1 a couple years ago. While the Samsung is improved, I struggle to get through a day with a few phone calls and light browsing. I may use the screen more, but the battery is drained pretty fast. My BB almost never required a mid-day charge. This phone almost never doesn’t. I can’t leave the house without a charger.
  • Physical keys: I’m talking here about device control keys. I miss having a single button to go to my messages and one to mute/unmute. On Android: activate screen, unlock screen, drag down phone controls,  press mute. Even the most common tasks are 3 or more steps away. Just give me two physical buttons I can set up to do what I want with a single press.
  • PodCasts: There are applications that sync with iTunes and play lists. So it’s third party, but I’m OK with that. Truth is with internet radio, I don’t need my own library that often. But, I’m a heavy podcast listener.  Why can’t the player or any application on this phone remember how much of each podcast I’ve already heard and start there? Hapi Podcast comes close, but does not quite deliver. Just give me this one feature and I’ll be happy. I’d pay extra.
  • The App Store: There are lots of apps there, but there are lots not there. Why doesn’t Zynga develop for Android? What about Veggie Samuri – there’s some fruit knock-off instead. Where can you find a good office suite? How hard can it be to create a version for multiple OS. Getting on the Android store is much easier – you’d think developing for them would be a priority.
  • Carrier OS Limitations: Why in an open system do I need to root the phone to use it how I want. Keep it open source. Allow me to change the bottom bar. Let me remove pre-loaded apps that I don’t want. Maybe warn me if I’m being dumb, but don’t make it impossible. A lot of investment has happened to allow device makers and carriers to have an inexpensive, open OS. Stop using open software like it is proprietary to your offering.

In the end, ease of use is still lacking in Android after what, almost 3 years of development. My wife has an iPhone and it seems to have done a better job at reconciling my hate issues. I’m hoping BlackBerry 6 will address my needs and finally get a device to my carrier – though their app store is less likely to ever catch up with iPhone or Android. Google develops Android, so they just need to focus on simplifying the user experience – especially, the setup. I hope Android 2.2 fixes many of these issues if it ever does come. If not, my life with an Android may be an expensive, short-lived experiment.

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51 Comments leave one →
  1. Sunflowerdiva permalink
    October 5, 2010 7:25 am

    Interesting to see the pros and cons of the Android. While there seems to be a lot of good things about it, there seems to be an equal amount of bad/frustrating things. It looks like a pretty cool phone, but from your experience it’s not ideal. Glad that you’ve shared your views on it. I always like these kids of pros/cons lists. Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed!

  2. sisteriowa permalink
    October 5, 2010 7:30 am

    Remember when a phone was just a phone? Ok, not with these things! I have an HTC and most of the time I dislike it for the simple fact that it is supposed to be a phone! When I go to use the phone the touchscreen for the numbers likes to lock up. Recently, it has decided to not remember any of my contacts and sometimes it will take 2 minutes to get back to the home screen. Other than that, it is a great phone….!

    • withduckandgoose permalink
      October 5, 2010 11:17 am

      LOL i have a motorola droid and i think the same thing about it. “this is a really cool computer device but it sucks as a phone” just about sums it up here too!

    • October 5, 2010 8:27 pm

      ihave nesusone droid and i think this is great !

    • iClare permalink
      October 5, 2010 10:38 pm

      Now that it’s supposed to be a phone, why we paid more than a phone.

  3. October 5, 2010 7:31 am

    I’ve been having the same issues with BB. What’s going on with them? Good luck!

  4. adebond permalink
    October 5, 2010 8:00 am

    I do agree that unless you’re completely immersed in the world of Google (GMail, calendar, contacts, etc) then things can be a bit more of a struggle to set up. I got a HTC Desire after owning both an iPhone 3G & an iPhone 3GS for a couple of years. It was a big shock to the system but I had grown bored of Apple’s walled garden & overly simple UI.

    When you bring up the phone dialler if you just start tapping in someone’s name like it’s a T9 keyboard then that will bring up the contact, although this might just work on HTC Sense. I also listen to loads of podcasts & use BeyondPod, which is great for remembering where you left the podcast. It’s great not having to plug my phone into my computer to sync.

    • October 5, 2010 11:01 pm

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, I get phone dialer is a T9 keyboard, but it 1 finds too many contacts or 2 only looks in first name and doesn’t find the one I want.

  5. October 5, 2010 8:57 am

    For podcasts, have you checked out Listen? It’s a podcast app from Google; I love it. Picks up right where I left off and has some nice features.

  6. October 5, 2010 10:09 am

    That looks like a lot more hate than love. My condolences.

    Crystal
    http://www.crystalspins.com

  7. October 5, 2010 10:10 am

    I loved my Droid when I got it. I have to say that love has turn to complete apathy. The marketplace is just awful and nothing has been done to make it usable. The apps that are in that marketplace; the awful far outweigh the good. When does the next version get rolled out…. what a nightmare the updating process has been. Recently my phone or something nuked the SD card, and now my phone just reboots for the fun of it. Is this a hate for Droid, no, but instead its reality, this phone and its operating system is just more of the same. Temper that with the fact that I don’t want a phone that does everything, just be a phone with some nice extras like a web browser and/or tethering. I like texting and occassionally an email but…

  8. The Perfectly Imperfect One permalink
    October 5, 2010 10:17 am

    I am an Android fan all the way, granted I don’t get all into everything, I found what I like and I stick to it. This irritates my boyfriend because when I want something, I make my boyfriend find it for me.

    Nice post, congrats on being freshly pressed.

  9. October 5, 2010 10:35 am

    Almost agree to all, well i’m owner of htc magic and htc legend, some of them are not applicable, either are better or worst. But in general i can say that Android saved my life, i’m a macbook pro user but not mind blocked, i mean, i believe that Android is a serious competitor. The only bad in here is the Samsung thing, a friend of mine got the same with you, nice screen etc, but not an Htc, lot of things to do better this company.

  10. October 5, 2010 10:50 am

    simple solution… get an iPhone. though not as customizable and open, it is easy to use and an overall enjoyable phone. can’t wait to get the iPhone 4 and play with it. I would never EVER take my wifes BB and my buddie’s android pisses him off more than anything else. Apple honestly did it right just as they’ve done with their computers (which i will also be switching to soon. HATE PC!!) :)

    great post and congrats on the fresh press!

  11. werty permalink
    October 5, 2010 11:49 am

    I am an Android fan all the way, granted I don’t get all into everything, I found what I like and I stick to it. This irritates my boyfriend because when I want something, I make my boyfriend find it for me.

    Nice post, congrats on being freshly pressed.

  12. Erica Hoffman permalink
    October 5, 2010 12:29 pm

    I think you are confusing Android, T-mobile modifications, and Samsung modifications. A stock android 2.1 or 2.2 is very usable, fast, and efficient. See the nexus one as an example. Samsung appears to have modified the heck out of Android to make it better for some definition of the word no one knows. The bottom bar, most of the look and feel of the dialer, contacts, calendar, etc are Samsung modifications. Having come from a nexus one that didn’t survive a 3 story fall, I miss it terribly. T-mobile has installed all sorts of crap to make it better; again for some definition of the word no one uses. I’m waiting for cyanogenmod to come out for the galaxy s and then i can wipe this crap from my sexy hardware and get back to a usable phone.

    smartphones today are where PC’s were in the 1990s. Every manufacturer ships their own crap on it, and gives you no way to go back to the clean, base OS without their crap. It’s horrible.

  13. October 5, 2010 12:43 pm

    i agree. the battery life is depressing on a droid… i finally just accepted that i have to carry my charger around with me wherever i go

  14. October 5, 2010 1:20 pm

    I love my Droid 2. When I first got it the battery life would deplete very rapidly. This annoyed me since I had downloaded the task killer and the background apps would run despite my tinkering with the program’s settings. Later I read that the background apps were designed to run and did so on very little CPU usage, so I was happy. What really seemed to resolve the battery life issue was dimming the screen’s brightness to its lowest setting. Now my battery lasts a reasonable amount of time and I love the phone. :)

    Oh and by the way, when I had just gotten the phone I called Motorola to see what I was doing wrong as far as the background applications were concerned, and they sent me an extended battery for free. :)

  15. October 5, 2010 1:51 pm

    I have a G1, which was the first Android phone… Its time to upgrade. Even with my crappy phone, I still love android. Its the only thing that can combat the iPhone. You make some good points though, things are difficult sometimes. Thanks for posting to give people the pro’s and cons. You may have just halped someone make a purchase or not!

  16. October 5, 2010 2:05 pm

    I got an HTC Eris dirt-cheap back in May because Droid X was about to come out. (My wife picked it out, and given the other options she turned down, she could have done much worse.) Two problems, one minor, one pretty significant.

    Minor: Just in the last week or so, the contact sync (with Gmail) has started freezing up and not syncing.

    Major: The camera (which I need to use in my job) is crap. No flash. Autofocus doesn’t. The $19.95 flip phone I had until May took dramatically better pictures — print quality. I need the camera in my job, and I can’t use it.

  17. October 5, 2010 2:40 pm

    This was really helpful to read! I’ve been considering making the switch from my BB to Android. Thanks for giving the lowdown. Certainly lots to consider. Hmmm…perhaps I’ll just stick with BB for now…
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! – MoSop

  18. sayitinasong permalink
    October 5, 2010 2:47 pm

    Blackberries, ipads, Androids etc etc. I cannot keep up! ..lol… I still have a goold old fashiones Nokia cell- you can text, make phone calls, and get voicemail messages. Oh, and it has a camera. Lol… that’s all I need… :o)

  19. Liz permalink
    October 5, 2010 2:58 pm

    I have the Droid x which has the latest Android update (Froyo 2.2) and I don’t seem to have a lot of the problems that you mention so some of what you bring up may be specific to your phone and/or your OS. I love my Droid x. Of course BB is better with email – it was built for email – but imo the Droid x is the best smart phone on the market today.

  20. preston permalink
    October 5, 2010 7:10 pm

    I have the Galaxy S phone, which I just purchased. My wife is in love with Blackberry, with exception to email the are slow have few upgrades and web browsing is better left for other phones. In the states the just introduced the AT&T Blackberry Torch which at first glance has a good web browser and an upgraded user interface which for a Blackberry is a giant leap forward. As for processing information it is slow for running mutiple applications. This is a RIM device so i expect it not to be a great departure from the mainstream Blackberry crowd. I dont think the GalaxyS phones are marketed for Blackberry users they are clearly aimed as an less costly alternative to the Iphone. I think its a worthy alternative and it’s PC friendly!

  21. October 5, 2010 7:23 pm

    may I please ask you what model of BB did you had? I plan to switch to a 9700 model soon and I want to be able to browse the internet in peace :)
    thanks

  22. October 5, 2010 7:24 pm

    I am planning on switching to Droid next month. I’ve always had generic phones, so this is my first jump to the fancy side of cellular. Thanks for the thoughts. You’ve given me some good questions to ask at the counter.

  23. Just!ne permalink
    October 5, 2010 8:02 pm

    I’ve never had a BB so I can’t give a true unbiased opinion. I do own a Droid phone (Kyocera Zio) and it’s pretty good compared to the Windows OS phone I had previously (Samsung Omnia).

  24. October 5, 2010 8:10 pm

    Hello, nice read! I am suffering from the same issue that you are, just in reverse. I loved some things about my BB(Bold 9700), like messaging, serching for contacts, physical key, but it just bored me. But, this was a great read

  25. October 5, 2010 8:42 pm

    hai good morning

  26. October 5, 2010 9:26 pm

    I just wanted to point out that (1) as mentioned before, most of the annoyances mentioned are samsung modifications, and (2) it *is* open-source, and there are literally hundreds of variants of the android os that you can download and replace your current one with; you can even create your own if you have the time and patience to learn how.

    One of the more popular “flavors” of android os (if you’re interested) is CyanogenMod: http://www.cyanogenmod.com/

  27. October 5, 2010 11:14 pm

    I have yet to own or use an Android device that was capable of providing sufficient battery life to complete a full work day. Not a single one. I am not exactly wowed by this Nexus One I am typing this out on…slowly.

  28. October 5, 2010 11:15 pm

    You guys are talking about Android and Blackberry. What about me, I’m stuck with Windows Mobile 6.5. I guess I should write a blog post as well about my love and hate for the phone! :D

  29. October 6, 2010 2:28 am

    nicenice

  30. October 6, 2010 2:58 am

    I think mobile phones are taking away big part of our real life, phone should be just a phone, to call and sms sometimes, thats all :)

  31. bernd permalink
    October 6, 2010 3:13 am

    Concerning your problems with a decent podcast experience on an android phone. I am a heavy podcast listener myself and found “Beyondpod” the perfect solution. I used to have an Ipod and subscribed to Podcasts via Itunes. Now I can subscribe to & download podcasts directly from my phone. Awesome. So much better than my old setup. It keeps the position where I stopped listening. Also I can setup rules for every feed, when to update, when to download, etc.

    Give it a try.

    http://www.beyondpod.mobi/android/index.htm

  32. October 6, 2010 3:34 am

    The thing that everyone seems to be forgetting when they compare Blackberry phones to the android phones is that they are aimed at two entirely different markets, one the one hand you have the blackberry and even though its being seen more and more in the hand of the general consumer its is in fact a business phone, this is why you get features such as push email for more than one email account and its also a reason why the calendar is a lot better for organizing your day.

    The android phone was designed with the average Joe in mind that doesn’t have more than one email account, doesn’t need to access business documents on the go, instead the features were supposed to be novelty, the kind of things that you buy the phone for because you think they were features that you would use but in reality you only use them once or twice realizing that you don’t need to receive endless amounts of spam directly to your phone.

    I was working for Vodafone uk when they brought out the Blackberry storm. There was an enormous amount of calls form the everyday consumer saying that they wanted one because Lewis Hamilton had one. At first we were told to advise customers its not being released to the public because it would not suit their needs because it is a business phone. However there were that many calls they decided to make it available to the general public. Turns out they were right about it not meeting the needs of the everyday person as since this massive Blackberry boom nearly every other call you receive is someone asking either how to switch the email off or who to apply spam filters with other “how do i…” questions about general functions of the phone

  33. October 6, 2010 4:51 am

    Very good article, congratulations I´m with you men

  34. October 6, 2010 7:28 am

    You should have stayed with the BlackBerry :D

    Where I live, most people have Android – why I go with BlackBerry.

    Thanks for sharing! :D

  35. October 6, 2010 7:48 am

    I think mobile phones are taking away big part of our real life, phone should be just a phone, to call and sms sometimes, thats all

  36. Jonathan permalink
    October 6, 2010 3:13 pm

    I’ve been looking at Android phones as a replacement for my BB when the contact ends.

    It’s worth pointing out that a LOT of your negative points are down to Samsung. In every review I have seen, the reviewer (if knowledgeable) has dumped on Samsung for the quality of the modifications they made to the base Android install.

    The carrier issues are nothing to do with Android.

  37. October 6, 2010 5:04 pm

    I have to point something out in regards to your complaint about the contacts. There’s a little nifty thing with the Galaxy S that allows you to swipe your finger over a contact for a particular command. Swiping it to the right will call the contact and swiping to the left will allow you to start typing a message to that person.

    You may want to do some Google searches to find ways to solve some of those problems. The complaints you’ve listed are pretty easy to solve.

  38. October 11, 2010 2:48 am

    Hey Jon,

    Here is one piece of advice for you if you are a Blackberry user. Never ever switch your mobiles, you will never ever like anything else once you get used to a Blackberry. I’ve been using android for a while now and I love it and I can’t image the points your highlighting here. Anyway, food for one is poison for another.

  39. October 11, 2010 8:42 am

    very usepul information. I like this web sites. thanks for this great work and informative read. thanks for this nice info, it’s so useful for me.
    I believe all to be happy with this. Thank you for sharing with us the information
    That is very interesting Smile I love reading and I am always searching for informative information like this.

  40. October 31, 2010 4:34 pm

    Love my Evo and Android, can get some great apps, would not go back to my old phone for anything.

    http://freeandroiddownloads.co.cc

  41. November 28, 2010 11:58 pm

    I updated to 2.2 this weekend and am happy to report that it resolves many of the complaints I raised above (as many of your comments suggested). My phone’s performance is much improved; the calendar actually has links; GPS locks fast; Google now saves application data as well as the apps themselves; the new gmail app is improved and, as an extra special bonus, I now have full flash in the browser. Oh, and for anyone looking for a pod-cast solution, Hapi Podcast solved that need.

    One thing to be said for open development is that improvements come fast – Samsung leaked a 2.2 beta and 2 days later 2.2 is reality. For my next request: wifi printing (got to keep up with the latest iphone update).

    Long live Android.

    http://eb-productions.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=samsungsgs&action=display&thread=2

  42. January 11, 2011 11:59 pm

    I was 10 minutes late to a conference call the other day. Why? Because the phone makes it near impossible to dial a number from the location of a meeting. I know, crazy that someone would put the conference call number in the meeting location. What to do if you don’t have pen and paper? Click on it and you get a search for the phone number on Google Maps. Not very useful. I then tried copying the search term from the map. I managed to get the number, but not the ID. OK. So, then, no where to paste that number into the dialer? You can punch in separate numbers, but not paste a string anywhere to dial. So, I created a contact and pasted the number there. After three dials to the contact, I finally got the 9 digit conference ID correct. I guess having a link is better than before when it was unusable text, but there has to be a better way for this all to common of an activity to be executed. How hard can it be to differentiate a phone number from a street address. Or, maybe ask what application to use when the link is selected. Just saying.

  43. February 21, 2011 4:02 am

    Very good article. I think mobile phones are taking away big part of our real life, phone should be just a phone, to call and sms…!!!

  44. September 2, 2011 11:16 am

    Regarding the calendar, I finally found one I love: Business Calendar from AppGenix. Has free and paid version. Presentation and navigation are outstanding. And, it can dial conference numbers from a location. I don’t use the stock calendar at all anymore. Look in the market or at http://www.apgenix-software.com.

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