A month with Android
This isn't a review per se, but a commentary. A commentary that in one aspect makes observations, and in another asks for advice.
My phone history over the last ten years goes from Nokia candybars to the Razr to the 8525 and, for the last 4.5 years, iPhones (OG, 3G, 4). I can remember going on Mod My Moto to do...something to the Razr, probably do custom ringtones or the like. It didn't stop with the iPhone, I'd jailbreak every so often for new themes, skins, anything to jazz up the look of it. What is a very good core operating system had become, to be frank, extremely boring. I found myself less and less excited about new hardware and software at every release. Now, I wasn't one to line up at the store to get one the first day, I was never that into it. But I look at the phones I had and were available before the iPhone and after it, and there's a pretty clear demarcation line and it's easy to see why I switched from WM6 to iOS.
The boring had started to become too much. I was hoping iOS 6 would renew my confidence, but the presser was a let down. I was hoping the hardware would convince me to stay, but what I had seen so far between leaks and rumors let me down. I wasn't looking for longer, I wanted wider. The planned switch to a smaller dock connector was good news, but I was worried about adapters - there's always some sort of glitch or unexpected consequence. I wasn't someone who had a bunch of accessories, partly due to how I had been burned before on charging. But I do have an iSimple interface in my car that provides playlist and always-on charging capability. My very occasional drives into work are augmented by streaming Digitally Imported. Great stress relief for a 40 mile drive.
A few months back I had become bored with my HP Touchpad as well. Again, great operating system. However, unlike iOS, there's pretty much zero app development going on, and the apps that were there were, for the most part, pure crap. Be it third party developers or major players, webOS (I think) suffered from oversaturation of mobile operating systems, making developers concentrate on (mostly) iOS, and not putting enough work into their webOS apps. Wordpress is the ultimate example here. Their Android app is fantastic, the iOS app is pretty good, and the webOS app is awful. Other operating systems have their duds as well, but you look at the catalog for webOS and I think, 'I wouldn't waste my money on that.' Half of the apps I found that I wanted were just phone versions with a huge border around them, not even bothering to scale them. You're free to disagree with that statement, but it's what I found to be true. Again, not knocking the core system here.
Anyway, I had considered putting CM9 on it for awhile but wasn't satisfied with what wasn't working. Eventually about a month ago I took the chance and I haven't looked back. It was so polished for an Alpha. But to the point of this thread, I loved the OS. The Play Store, while not as fleshed out as the App Store, had a ton of content in it. I had done the math a few times, and discovered that most of what I had on iOS was free on Android, so that particular pain of switching was lessened. I immediately liked it so much I started buying apps. I have been a fairly heavy Google user for the last couple of years, so better integration with their services was nice to see. I had been wanting widgets for awhile, so it was nice to finally try those out. I was hooked.
Liking Android in the CM9 flavor, I was emboldened to finally cut my iOS tether and switch my phone as well. After deciding between the One X, Note and SGS3, I chose the latter partly due to storage concerns. I've been pretty happy with the phone, but it hasn't been long enough to give a review on, or make a final determination of if I will keep it or not. In part, because there are some things that I miss about iOS that I wonder if I can replicate on this.
The most immediate thing I think iOS got right was the latest notification system where it lit up the screen with a quick synopsis of what the alert was. I miss that terribly. It was great to be able to quickly take my phone out of my pocket, glance at the screen, and (usually) just put the phone right back. Now I have to hit either of the hardware buttons, and bring down the notifications screen to get that. If it's more than one email, I'll have to open email to see what they were.
Speaking of emails, I haven't figured out a good balance yet. Since I use Gmail exclusively, I've only been using that and not the included email app. Using both hasn't worked yet, but I'd like to get the lock screen notifications like I do with messaging.
Speaking of messaging, I do miss iMessaging. Free, easy messaging without having to use a third party. Will have to keep a closer eye on my totals, as most people I text with have iPhones.
I've been a bit disappointed with widgets. Too much screen area is wasted, and the sizing options are lacking. I heard this might be fixed in JB - is that true? Also, the widgets don't seem to update real time, outside of what I have for a clock and battery.'
I was hoping I could turn off forwarding in Google Voice and just be able to open the app to take a call to it, but that's not the case. Still have to forward it.
I love how I was able to download a .CSV of my Gas Cubby data and import it into aCar. I had heard about this app months ago, and it lived up to it's billing.
Most of the apps that span both platforms work as I would expect them to. Some are slightly better, some are slightly worse, most are right at the same. I do like Play Store app management right from my desktop, but have been disappointed a few times by either or both of my devices not being compatible either because the app is too old, or it's region-locked. Not used to that, obviously. I also never ran into an app that wouldn't work on any of the iPhones because I was jailbroken, but I've already found one that wouldn't work on my Touchpad because it was 'rooted.'
Something I expected, but was still annoyed by, was the carrier bloatware. Obviously that can be gotten around by disabling or buying international versions. However it strikes me as impressive how much power Apple controls by taking that option out of carrier hands completely. I'm surprised the other manufacturers haven't tried to band together to wield more power over their handset experiences.
It's been some getting used to, and by the questions I posed there is still more to learn and to adjust to. At this point, I'm pretty sure I won't be switching back for the foreseeable future. Android is too solid, and I'm sure most of my gripes come from not being familiar with it. Even the Touchwiz isn't too bad, taken partly away with the Holo Launcher. In fact, I just saw that you can overlap widgets, which is better, but only partially solves my problem above.
If anyone has any suggestions for my qualms, it would help make the transition that much smoother. Thanks.