Couple Days with the Droid

OREM, UT -  NOVEMBER 5: A manager holds an App...
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I have to say that with my first couple days with the Droid, I’ve noticed some things that no one else has really bothered to mention. First, if anyone think that this is a contender for the iPhone, I would say that Apple really has some competition. This is definitely the first phone that I’ve touched that overall has a better feel and the apps actually are close enough to really give Jobs some heartburn.

Likes
Very smooth. If you have it linked to your wifi at home, when the signal disappears, it actually switches off to 3G immediately. No fuss, no muss. The interface moves very well. It does lag sometimes if you don’t have the right apps to shut down the apps that you quit from (why you can’t quit from an app is another annoyance that Google has to fix).

I love the notifications. I mean, that’s one thing that iPhone doesn’t do well, and notifications here are out of the way and are there when you want to look at them.

Maps integration and voice dial? Awesome. The entire Car Mobile feature is sweet and I think Garmin itself might have a contender on its hands. I’ll have to test it out more to find out.

The multimedia station sync is great. Immediately, my phone also became my alarm clock. Will have to note to self not to chuck alarm clock across the room…. not that I do that anyways, but still.

Vibrate function is super powerful. Now this might be somewhat annoying and I sorta wish people would make it so that you could control the level of vibrate sometimes, but a powerful vibrate always helps when you’re in a loud place and your phone goes off. There’s nothing more annoying than waiting for a call and missing it because you didn’t feel the vibrate feature. Entirely useless then, isn’t it?

OpenGL support. Android is basically a flavor of linux (don’t believe me? kernel is 2.6.9….), so we shouldn’t be surprised here but that makes 3D gaming and animation completely possible and with the smaller resolutions, you can guarantee some interesting gaming coming your way.

I’m not fond of keyboards, but the hardware keyboard is actually a nice one and compared to my Nokia n810 Wimax, it feels pretty good. The on-screen one could use a little work when it’s trying to detect what you’re trying to type so it corrects it after learning what letters you hit off in portrait mode.

Android Market is awesome. It might be a little more simple compared to the iTunes store, but when people complain about how there’s just not enough apps? From one geek to another, I’m going to say that there’s plenty out there. Plenty. Sometimes I wish open source apps were this easy to find.

Forget the in-the-box browser. Get Dolphin. Know how iPhone users are all talking about how they can zoom and such? Dolphin can do that. Now if only Google put it in all of their apps like Google Maps and such.

Dislikes
I don’t like the fact that BT headsets don’t have voice dialing. This is a problem of Google’s Android OS, and not the phone itself. Very annoying considering it’s a phone built by Motorola, and every past Motorola phone actually had BT voice dialing. This should have been brought up during testing by product development on Motorola’s side since it’s a feature they’ve had since… well, forever.

Don’t like the fact that you can’t quit from an app. Some apps might need to be persistent but out of the box, there are many that don’t have to run in the background. Very annoying out of the box. Fortunately, I went and grabbed Task Manager, and life is good again.

I also don’t like the fact that you can’t group contacts together from different sources. While an auto-merge might be a little crazy, the fact that you can sync your Facebook contact information with your Google accounts means that you’ll get a lot of duplication. Merging the two in a pseudo-group format would make life a lot easier and provide profile shots for those that you didn’t have profile pictures. Personally, I think the Android is missing out here but then again, somehow I doubt the iPhone can do it too (can anyone tell me one way or another? ).

Camera auto-focus. What? Seriously, the time it takes to auto-focus for certain apps, I’d rather do a manual focus feature. Oh wait, you can’t. But seriously now, this sounds like a fix that can be done via firmware.

In portrait mode, the on-screen keyboard is pretty blech. If you have big hands, it’s hard to type with it on there. Fortunately for landscape mode, eh?

Synopsis
It’s really a blanket bomb of my thoughts, but I really don’t see any reasoning why you can’t send text messages and surf and such while on a call like the iPhone commercial. Having worked in the telecommunications industry for over a decade on the infrastructure side, there’s not really any reason that it couldn’t happen unless the phone itself occupies resources that otherwise can’t be used for a call when on data, or vice versa. Of course, if people wanted to do it, it could still be done by using the same techniques as PTT on CDMA. Think about it.

I still haven’t seen any driving or flying games that require the accelerometer for turning that I’ve seen on the iPhone. But based on the sensitivity of Google Sky, I would say that the Droid can totally pick up the same type of gaming.

Battery life seems a bit lacking, but nothing out of the ordinary with a smartphone. Most of your battery goes to the radio and the LCD in a smartphone anyways. Some power-save features might be nice.

If you get down to the Verizon over AT&T for service? I’d agree completely on voice and data. There’s just no question when you compare the two networks. Part of the reason why I haven’t bothered with an iPhone.

With Google’s coffers, I think the Droid and Android phones in general have a really good shot at taking on the number one smartphone maker. There are a few things that I would start pushing and remind Google that when you’re gunning for the number one spot in mobile devices, your product can’t be in beta. Some of the dislikes that I mentioned above are staples of the mobile industry and need to be patched for all current and future phones. If you just let it be, people won’t want to use your product. Just as RF is finicky, domestic mobile users are finicky. And you just can’t rely on that type of situation when so many vendors are looking to your OS to end the slaughtering.

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