shamelessly copying the
make the leap slogan from SRAM (which faced the prospect of entering a market where shimano seemed to be impossible to attack), this is my brief report of
30 days and 30 nights (another shamelessly copied tagline) of android usage. this test was made possible by google, which provided my mobile applications course with 30 free droid phones, each coming with 30 days of free service. thanks, google!
i have had an iPhone since its first release, and while i think that it is a very well-designed device, i dislike apple's strategic moves, so i went into the test with the goal to actually make the leap and eventually move to a more open platform.
i could stop this report right here because after only 10min, it became clear that android does not really work all that well when you're not a google user. i don't use GMail and thus was delighted to see
support for POP and IMAP in a program called
GMail program, which means it may have support for accessing POP/IMAP servers, but it is designed around interactions based on GMail's design: you can
star messages (how does that map to POP/IMAP?), but you cannot move messages between folders. which means that was it for my desire to switch: there's no way i am going to switch to a platform that may have great GMail support, but has lousy email support.
this first experience also represents the rest of my experiences with android. it's very rough around the edges, and my main feeling is that it is probably good enough for anybody moving up from a feature phone, but disappointing for everybody who has been spoiled by the refinement and perfection of the iPhone platform. it reminded me a lot of experiencing Linux, which in theory works as well as windows or mac, but in practice it becomes very apparent that there is no centralized and final quality control; it just feels different from something that has been developed with actual quality control in place.
what i found strange is that the development of the platform itself still has the
small startup vibe of the pre-acquisition days, instead of feeling like google really putting its development muscles behind it. for example, the android browser currently does not support animated GIFs, which is pretty remarkable given that this is a mid-90s technology. but what's more interesting is the general developer attitude shown in the official android bug report. it's basically the
we'll get to it when we get to it attitude of a small team, instead of google recognizing that support for 15-year-old basic web technologies should maybe have some priority.
some things are really great on android: maps work better and with the
labs feature, there even is the terrain view, which will probably never make it to the iPhone now that the google/apple love affair is officially over. navigation is very useful and seems to work very well. being able to display
my maps is also promising, but i have to find a better way to manage geo content through my maps.
some functionality on the platform is good (maps), some is bad (email), but what's consistently not even getting close is the UI/UX design. things are routinely hidden behind the menu button, sometimes behind a second level of protection (a
more button in the
menu menu), and many interactions are more complicated than they would have to be. if somebody with little UI/UX background and experience routinely runs into things that look like
i could have done that better, that's not a good sign for a platform.
so instead of literally giving away thousands of free android phones, i think google would be much better off putting 100 UI/UX designers on the android team and make them clean up the platform right now. if google is serious with challenging the iPhone platform, they have a lot of catching up to do, and looking at the last update (from 2.0 to 2.1), i don't even know what i got from that. the next version has to make a considerable step forward in UI/UX, or the most likely challenger of the iPhone might follow the path of WebOS.
oh, and, could you please include an email client in the next version? thanks!