Our Friend Kai Armstrong sent us this article for a guest submission and it was too good to pass by. His thoughts on the Android vs. BlackBerry situation are spot on in my opinion, and I could not agree with him more. Be looking for my official review on the HTC Incredible as a business device and Jason’s review from all other perspectives in the next few weeks.
So I’ve had my HTC Droid Incredible for all of a couple days now and decided that made me completely qualified to write up a few thoughts on the subject. I won’t give you a review on the phone or specs and features…they’ve been beaten to death all over the internet so go and find them.
The Android Platform is leaps and bounds beyond the BlackBerry OS (my mobile OS prior to snatching up this phone). I’ve never used (for any length of time) the stock builds of Android from Google and this phone runs the HTC Sense skinned version which is AMAZING. The interface is fluid and enjoyable…really sucks me in. It’s really nice to be able to move whatever you want, have multiple places to put stuff and Widgets…the greatest thing about Android. One of the quirky little things that I’m enjoying is that after unlocking the phone the HTC weather widget plays an animation of the weather (yesterday we had storms so it showed clouds, rain and lightning) nothing necessary at all, but a nice little feature.
I’m sure part of it is still new gadget syndrome, but I haven’t been on my laptop as much the past few nights, just using my phone for things.
The email experience that I’m getting on Android is AMAZING, they say BlackBerry is king of email, and for some it might be, but for me Android is doing amazing things. I’ve got my gmail account (my primary personal email) and that takes over the phone, so when your life is already in Google, you sign in and things work great…contacts, calendar, etc..all there! Then I added my work exchange email account, and the experience here is amazing. Instant email, calendar sync, and an option for the contacts as well…it all just works.
So one of the things everyone wants to talk about is App this or app that…well I’ve been REALLY happy with what’s available for Android. I think on every platform you can find the apps you NEED, but what really makes Android great in comparison to BlackBerry, is there are all these extra apps, that I don’t need, but they’re certainly fun. I’ll list out what I’ve got on it now:
- Mint.com – Just nice if you have a Mint account to keep track
- Bank of America – more financial stuff on the go
- Pandora for Streaming Music, with a great widget on one of the screens
- Dropbox – AMAZING if you have a dropbox account, instant access to all that stuff and an easy way to get stuff back to the PC
- Transdroid – monitors torrents downloading at home
- Remote Desktop Client – Connect and control a Windows PC via Remote Desktop
- ConnectBot – SSH client for some servers at work
- Google Sky Map – ONE OF MY FAVORITES just turn it on and it shows you what stars and stuff are above you when you move the phone, really cool
- Google Voice – I’ve got totally integrated Google Voice on the phone for VoiceMail, Texts and Calls
- Twitter for Android – official Twitter client, also using Twicca for picture support
- Facebook for Android – a big letdown compared to most other Facebook apps, but the touch.facebook.com interface is pretty nice
- Foursquare for checking in places
- 360 Live for checking up on Xbox Live stuff
- Games…no shortage of different ones to play with here…sadly no Words with Friends…
I’m sure I’ll find tons more stuff to play with and tryout, but those were the ones I quickly snatched up and i’m loving them. The experiences are great and everything runs well. It’s great to hop back and forth between apps, and everything integrates really well. Easily send information from one app to another.
What I Love…
The Notification System…pulling down that little bar at the top and a big long list of notifications is great. It’s easy to see what needs your attention. You can click on one and jump from whatever your doing straight to that notification, or you can just slide the dock back up and leave them for later. It’s a really unobtrusive way to find out whats happening. As far as the LED…its a bit useless on this phone…but that’s OK.
The Interface…it is amazing to just move back and forth and in or out of applications and menus with ease. The interface is well thought out and can easily be navigated. All the little transition features, or slides back and forth and the weather thing…just icing on the cake of a very pleasant experience.
The web browser. One of my biggest gripes about BlackBerry was the fact that I was SCARED to click on links from people…the browser was so slow, probably wouldn’t have rendered it right or crashed. It’s nice to be cruising twitter, see a link and go to whatever it is
What I Miss…
So there are certainly a few drawbacks to changing platforms, especially after you’ve gotten one figured out pretty well. One of the big ones is BlackBerry Messenger, it was how I kept up with a few people, but certainly how the wife and I kept in touch throughout the day. In fact, she just called and asked why I hadn’t responded to one…she’s still adjusting too I guess. I think Google Talk can certainly take the place of BlackBerry Messenger for me, and is a much more flexible solution for cross platform communication.
That little LED on my BlackBerry…those of you that have had one know what I’m talking about. It was great, I had it all setup with different colors and it would just blink and let you know what type of message you had and what you needed. It was really handy.
SocialScope, by far my favorite app on BlackBerry was SocialScope. SocialScope is a multi-social-network application. It was one app that could do Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Flickr. VERY VERY nice and smooth and was really great to keep up with everything from one window.
The Facebook app is the worst…it doesn’t get notifications for very many things, and its a bit clunky to navigate. I’m happy that I get the emails, click on the link and head into the browser, but a more complete application with integration and notifications would be great.
I’m not sure why I have an optical track-pad at the bottom of the phone, the only thing I can figure out for it so far is that it’s the only camera button…
The camera is good, my few tests with it seem to make me think that it works best outdoors with lots of natural light. My experience in low-light or indoors has been a blue tint…which I’ve seen replicated around the internet…maybe it needs a touch of tweaking.
The community is great, people quickly help you out, find apps, let you know whats out there. Really great, and I’ve managed to keep a lot of my BlackBerry friends as we all seemed to migrate to this phone at the same time…
Swype is an interesting concept. It’s a keyboard where you just run your fingers across it and the words magically appear…I’m getting used to it, but can certainly see it being my default.
Android certainly isn’t for everyone…in fact I think it appeals to a deeper geeky side than other platforms might. It is so flexible in allowing you to move things or install apps from anywhere, move them around in the file-system, or whatever else you please that it’s certainly not a phone for everyone. In fact, I think the menu system and settings scattered all over the place might be daunting to some people, but to me its that fine level of control that I enjoy and like. I’m not certain that I’ll be an Android user forever, but I think the platform is really on the right track and I’m loving every minute of it.