Android Frustrations from a former WebOS User
To start I must apologize for the length of this post, but I needed to get some of my frustrations off my chest and hope for some solutions from one of the best tech communities around.
My Smartphone experience begins with a Motorola Windows Mobile 5.0 flip phone, then a Windows Mobile 6.0 HTC Touch Diamond, next was the Sprint Palm Pre with webOS 1.4.5, and my current is the Sprint Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch running Android 2.3.6. Windows Mobile showed me how cool it is to have my email and calendars synced between phone and PC. WebOS showed me how it could all be done elegantly, and Android has shown me a world of apps I hadn't experienced except for on an iPod touch. I was with the Pre the longest as I just recently made the switch to the Sprint GS II this past February and I had had the Pre since roughly 2009/10.
I enjoy nearly everything about the GS II (save maybe the screen resolution) except for Android and TouchWiz running on the device. Android has all too often caused me to wish for the good ole days when I was on webOS and my only concerns were hardware and apps. Everyone is quick to say how customizable android is, but in my experience the customizations are mostly out of necessity and not by choice. I have problems with nearly every core app on the operating system not to mention the processes in which android itself runs and operates. Yes I have found 3rd party alternatives for some of these, but they aren't always optimized for the OS and more importantly I shouldn't need to find alternative apps for core apps on a mobile OS as popular and mature as Android is. Most of the time I feel like Android is still in Beta and I continue to wonder how it gets so much acclaim. I understand that ICS may address some of the following issues I'm having, and I hold out hope that a switch to the Sprint Galaxy Nexus may be a breathe of fresh air for me personally.
Notifications can't be individually dismissed?
This is more of come on Google than anything else. I know that ICS seems to have addressed this issue completely, but I find it hard to believe that you couldn't dismiss individual notification before 4.0. I do like having the notification center for sure and understand why iOS 5 added one, but seriously with all the stupid adds and game notifications that get populated in there, you'd think this one would've been obvious.
Multitasking Menu doesn't show running apps?
This has been the hardest thing to get used to on Android coming from webOS. This menu is the most inconsistent and unusable menu in the whole OS. I don't know why so many people praise Android for it's multitasking. Why would I want a list of Recent apps and not those apps I'm running so that I can easily switch between them? Not to mention that the list of running apps is so hopelessly buried in settings that it is in no way productive. But the biggest gripe I have about it is that it doesn't show my most recently used apps. If I start an app from a widget or a notification, the app doesn't get put in the recent list even if it was the most recent app I used. Or let's say I use the back arrows to close all the way out of an app like Pandora so that it's not in my notification center or task manager, but still somehow is in my running apps list and is playing music. Granted I have learned to go through the menu button to hit the app's "quit" button, but this is hopelessly inconsistent and unintuitive. The other problem I have with multitasking is that some apps such as Google Listen have a tendency if I switch to another app for a while to randomly stop playing and close down. With webOS a simple swipe up ALWAYS showed me the apps that were open at the time and let me easily and elegantly switch to and from apps at my discretion, greatly increasing my productivity. I just find my self getting lost in Android with it's inconsistencies and terrible multitasking paradigm. I even just miss seeing the apps minimize a bit, letting me see my mobile desktop, so that I wasn't always running in full screen mode.
Email Apps are Nearly Useless
Second major complaint with Android 2.3, and I can't tell if 4.0 fixes this or not. I find the stock Gmail app completely useless and only use it to sync my Gmail account. I have not opened since I determined this, and just use the Email core app. I have a Live account, Gmail account, Exchange account, and Yahoo account linked in through the Email app. Still I haven't found a good email app that even seems to come close to what Windows Phone 7.5 is offering! My HTML emails are always zoomed in to the text by default, but typically I would prefer to see the whole message first and then zoom to the parts I want to read, but I can't "customize" the app to do this. At least the Email app will let me zoom out unlike the stock Gmail app. I don't really want to switch to going through the mobile web version because I don't get the new mail counter. Also, where is the "mark all read" option instead I have to long press on each email to choose "mark as read". How I miss "swipe to delete" from webOS, don't get me wrong email on the Pre was not much better but I do miss the gestures.
Messaging App is lacking
The stock messaging app is not terrible, but where is the group messaging options? I don't want to pay a service fee to get a group messaging app as I'm already paying for the SMS service and have bought a super phone that is supposed to have all the options included... Also, with Google Voice my messages get split between the two service instead of both showing whole conversations. And the gVoice app doesn't give me a new message count like the stock messaging app does. Finally, and this could be Sprint but I think perhaps it is Google Voice, my messages have a tendancy at times to show up on the other person's phone a day later. What's up with that?
Widgets are mostly a Gimmick
I'll probably get flamed for this one, but seriously I find myself being VERY choosy with what widgets I use. Sure the weather and clock are nice, and Tweetdeck, and my calendar, and youtube. I have not yet found a widget that made me think wow, this is an awesome feature and I don't know why everyone doesn't include this. They have so few "customization options" usually and are typically not terribly current with their information that they aren't worth the battery drain.
Reordering Apps is Impossible
I think this may also be an item that is addressed by Android 4.0, but it is seriously very frustrating on 2.3. If you've ever used an iPhone or iPod touch you probably know what I'm going to say here. Why is it so difficult to organize my apps and move them around in folders in android 2.3? I have gone to putting all my apps in folders within my app drawer because the number of apps I have was getting to be unruly. On my home screens, if I have a full page, why can't I move my apps around on the page to reorder/customize their order to my personal preference? Why must I remove an app find it again in the app drawer and then bring it back on to the page after moving my other apps around with the gap left behind. Why do folders stay open after making my selection? Apple nailed this, granted webOS didn't even have app folders, but android does and they are very poorly implemented.
App Selection is Good
This has to be one of the biggest reasons In my opinion why Android is still around. Which brings about a somewhat circular argument for the existence of Android, but none-the-less is a good argument for the platform. Going from roughly 5-6 thousand apps on webOS to the 2-3 hundred thousand on android is amazingly mind blowing.
Hardware Really is Great
By far the Samsung GS II on Sprint is the best piece of hardware I've used to this point. The screen size is why I didn't go with the iPhone 4S, the cameras are great, the processor speed is excellent with very little lag ever. I find myself taking the phone out of its protective case all the time and continuously marveling at how thin it is. Coming from the Pre, this thing is built like a rock and has a great big beautiful screen.
I know that most of these are not really new issues, but I suppose it is a little cathartic for me to voice the concerns I'm seeing. Also my hope in posting this to this forum is that I get some helpful tips or at least some specific reassurance that ICS has addressed all these issues. For now I can't help but think 2 thoughts, first that android has made it thus far merely because it has been the only alternative available to the iPhone and Google has some work to do in the OS and UI worlds, and second that I keep dreaming about webOS running on the GS II hardware with the app selection of Android. With that I will end my rant, thanks for bearing through this with me. I don't mean any personal offense to anyone just needed to voice some pent up frustrations I've had since moving from webOS to Android.