Android 4 & up + Nexus + Duarte = webOS Plus?
Back in April this year, I wrote a post lamenting the frustrations I was experiencing with the Android User Experience since moving on from webOS. At the time I was using a Sprint Galaxy S2 phone and it was a pre-ICS era. In the post I listed 6 major frustrations:
- Notifications - couldn't be individually dismissed as they could in webOS
- Multitasking - was a far cry from the super functional webOS method.
- Email & Gmail apps - didn't have zoom functions and needed separate apps for various accounts, instead of the universal inbox and accounts synergy webOS had.
- Messaging App - wasn't any worse than webOS really, but sad that there hasn't been much innovation here.
- Widgets - were very buggy and when tapped didn't always add the app to the recent apps list.
- App Organization - on the homescreens was very tedious and difficult without being able to move widgets and apps around when moving another app on the screen.
Since April, a lot has happend that has caused me to revisit my original post to see what concerns on my list if any are still viable. ICS and Jelly Bean are now available with Key Lime Pie around the corner. I have switched from the Samsung Epic Touch Pro Galaxy S2 phone running Touchwiz to a Samsung Galaxy Nexus running stock unrooted Jelly Bean with lte. The Nexus 4 is available now with the possibility of a Touchstone style wireless charger. Tons of updates have bean made to the way android operates and the apps contained within it. Mattias Duarte and team have been pumping Android full of webOS goodness the last 8 months and it has made Android look new and different. And just in case this new fangled android doesn't pan out, the open sourced webOS community has been working to get my beloved OS up and running on a Galaxy Nexus. So what to make of my list now, have all my frustrations been addressed or are they still valid in today's smartphone world?,/p>
Notifications- This is one frustration I can happily say has been turned into a joy. Notifications since Jelly Bean have been amazing with the ability to use two fingers and pull down more info on notifications, being able to swipe away individual notifications a la webOS is great, and the improvements in 4.2.1 with the 2 finger swipe for quick settings just adds more goodness.
Multitasking- This again since ICS added the app switching cards (what does this remind me of?) this gripe is gone as well. They're not exactly the same as webOS's cards, but they are the best option IMHO available on a smartphone now, and they give me the satisfying ability to swipe away an app that I'm no longer using.
gMailapps - Since the last update for the gMail app this complaint is no longer an issue and I now LOVE using my gmail app now that I can set it to auto fit my messages to my screen and i can swipe to delete messages from my inbox. But this issue is not completely solved as there is still the presence of the email app that I use for my work exchange mail. Also, I now use a gMail app, an Email app, a Yahoo Mail app, and an Outlook.com app....so much for a unified inbox. Mattias and team, please, please add Synergy and Universal Inbox to my email and accounts in the next version of Android. The last update for gMail vastly improved the situation, please don't stop there!
- Messaging App - This is still very much a frustration for me. I would very much like to have a unified messaging app that syncs my SMS/MMS, Google Chat, Facebook Chat, G+ Chat, Group Messages, iMessage friends, Skype friends, Google Voice Integration, Windows Link Messenger, and allows other apps to plug into it like yahoo messenger, ICQ?, twitter, etc.
- Widgets - I almost crossed this one off as I believe widgets especially from Google have been dramatically improved, but I still believe they could be better. Why don't we have mail and messaging count badges on the stock apps ( I know other launchers add this feature, but I want it native in some fashion). Sometimes I just want a small tile/badge/whatever...that doesn't take up much screen real estate, to keep me updated about my missed calls, unread messages, etc. I don't alway want a email widget to take up an entire page of my 5 pages in stock JB.
App Organization- This frustration is completely eliminated now with ICS and JB's improvements to reordering apps (& widgets!) on my homescreens. Having used a few 3rd party launchers I have seen very cool things being done with the app drawer and I hope that Mattias and team focus some creative energy and time there in the next release.
In my previous post back in April, I ended the post with a couple things I've loved about moving to Android from webOS. And any webOS user will quickly notice that my two items were probably the two biggest frustrations with webOS, hardware and apps. I've heard some say the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is not a premium device i terms of materials and hardware specs anymore, but coming from webOS, the GNex is a breath of fresh air, and then to think what LG accomplished with the Nexus 4 hardware and materials the future with android phones looks very bright. I've also heard many say the apps on Android are lacking design sensibility and I've definitely experienced this, but coming from webOS (and old Windows Mobile) they look pretty good too me and it appears that Mattias and team are having some very good influence in this department as well, setting app design specs and redesigning nearly all of the stock Google apps (YouTube, G+, gMail, gCal, etc).
So in conclusion, I must concede that MUCH of my list has been reduced to smithereens in the last 8 months, and I for one am very happy about that. In addition to my list there are many new features getting added with each release (Google Now, Native maps, 3D maps, wireless charging, Project Butter, LTE, better battery life, and the move to on-screen buttons) that have started to cause me to delight even more in the future of Android now that it looks and feels more and more webOS-ish.
What features and improvements would everyone else like to see in the next release of Android? Tops on my list are:
- WebOS Synergy like feature for my mail, contacts, calendars, and various accounts.
- Continued improvement in the email apps such as a one-app-to-rule-them-all style Universal Inbox. Or at least make the apps have the same feature sets and settings.
- Better Widgets that are more flexible and don't require me having 10 versions for one app for the various sizes.
- Super Unified Messaging App
- Make wireless charging a standard on any new Nexus devices (don't care what wireless technology standard it is just make it widespread).
- Better Battery Life (As much as can be done via software changes)
Thanks for reading,