Going Android

Posted by on Apr 26, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments

I do indeed have an ‘Android’ phone – the HTC desire.
I had initially wanted to get the Legend – it’s a looker, and seeing as my main computer is a macbook pro, I wanted a ‘mobile computer’ to match (that is after all what these smartphones are – computers, say goodbye to the simplicities of having a phone).

However, a few reviewers mentioned that due to it’s sharp metal edges, it’s not too comfortable to use as a phone up against ones ear and that although it looks like it’s from the future and looks more apple than apple, it doesn’t have too much under the hood in terms of power compared to the Desire, but all the reviews say it’s snappy and a joy to use.

This is where things can get a bit geeky and you begin talking in terms of computers rather than phones – processor speed.
The Legend is clocked at about 600mhz (faster than my old old powerbook laptop admittedly, which now is a glorified stereo) The iphone is about the 550 mark, but I guarentee using my crystal ball that the next iphone, which should be released around June time will certainly have a 1ghz chip (like the ipad).

The Desire (stupid names these) although doesn’t look that great – it reminds me of a mid 90’s PC in terms of design) is fast – it’s 1ghz in speed and compared to the iphone (I’ve got an ipod touch) feels more snappy and responsive when pushing it. However, speed isn’t everything, and you’ll need to decide if you want a phone that does everything, could take over the world and will likely hold it’s own Top-Trumps style further down the line, or a solidly built, good-looking phone that will do pretty much what an iphone can. If it’s the former, go for Desire, the latter, Legend.
Deciding between the two, you’re best off going into a shop and trying them both out. I was certain on the Legend, but boy-geekery got the better of me and I went for power over style.

I’d ask what it is about the iphone you feel to be a rip off – admittedly having used my ipod touch quite a bit before getting my ‘droid on, I got very much sucked into the ‘app’ eco culture of the ipod, and to be fair, it IS slick and very easy to use – instantly accessible. There really is an ‘app for everything’ and because it’s so tightly controlled, it feels very ‘safe’ and it syncs seamlessly with my macbook.

My reasons for not going down the iphone route were down to the fact that I’m sick and tired of seeing every other person with one, mostly people who would never have dreamed of buying an apple computer a few years ago, are suddenly Steve Job’s lap dogs. I’m not saying it’s bad that more people are getting a better user experience, and finally realising why apple computers have always been a pleasure to use, but it now seems that to ‘Think Different’, there needs to be an alternative.

At my other job at Newport University, a lot of students have iphones, and most of the staff do too – I genuinely wanted to see what the competition had to offer. If I didn’t have an ipod touch and felt I’d ‘lived the dream’ a little, I might well have got me an iphone instead.

Android is an interesting operating system – it’s often billed as ‘open source’ but is ultimately managed and controlled by Google, in association with a long list of software and hardware producers. I did have some serious reservations about buying into Google so fully – Their privacy policy is a bit dubious and they are hell bent on practically owning all of our online life. But I in a moment of intellectual brain-fart, I threw caution into the wind and now I’m Google’s bitch. I already use most of my email though gmail and use google office at work and so going all the way didn’t feel too hideous.

These new phones are about being online, so your Facebook contacts can be synced up to your phone contacts, you can have a ‘friend stream’ of your flickr,twitter and facebook aquaintances trickled to you constantly and it can feel a bit exposing at times, but these are the times we live in, and for me, I want to see what it’s all about with the future promising to be geo-tagged and location based, augmented reality on tap, it’s there for the taking, but there is an aspect to ‘taking the red pill’

I enjoy using the Android, and particularly HTC – they have their own ‘skin’ called ‘sense’ over the top, which makes the phone feel more tactile and pretty than the standard android phones – I wouldn’t really touch an android from many other phone manufacturers yet, although Motorola might have a nice one soon, and SonyEricsson are on the way, albeit using old versions of Android.

Compared to iphone, Android kind of allows for the possibility for things to go wrong a bit more – you do have control over files a bit more, and it’s through apple not allowing you any control that keeps it shiny and ‘m m magical’

One really annoying thing is that there isn’t much space on the phone – which holds your contacts, emails, texts, and ‘apps’ Although you get a 4GB micro SD card with it and you can put one up to 32GB in , all your apps get stored in the phone, which means you have to be fairly selective of apps and a couple of big ones, such as Google Earth (at 22MB) will fill up your space quickly and the phone begins to spazz-out a bit until you trim it down. It is said that future versions of Android will let you save onto the SD card though.

Apps – yes apple started it all and now all the phone makers want them. The Android Market place is quickly building up it’s numbers, but as there is no quality control (unlike Apple’s strict enforcement) there is a LOT of crap out there, but I have generally found apps that let me do the similar productive things as iphone on android, and more and more developers are creating android versions of iphone apps and vice versa, so as more people go Android, this should get stronger. If it’s games you want to play, iphone wins hands down. There are some okay ones on Android to pass the time, but again – not as polished as iphone.

Syncing up my phone with my Computer isn’t as straight forward as it should be yet either. With iphone – it revolves arounf itunes – it syncs up music the apps, movies, contacts, everything.
Android does have some special syncing software, but it’s PC only – There are paid software sync software’s out there – ‘missingsync’ is one, but so far I’m getting by using a hotchpotch of ‘doubletwist’ which supposedly manages music and media (although no where near as well as itunes) and ‘busycal’ which I have synced my google calendar to my mac calendar fairly seamlessly, although busycal does cost money. So it’s not as easy to let it link in to the mac, so if you want it no fuss, iphone would be the best choice if you must have that streamlied, but I do think there’ll be more solutions further down the line.

Android feels quite experimental and on the fringe, and I like that. I like the fact I can geek out and tinker with it, but it can be confusing and does remind me of the complexity of using a windows or Linux machine compared to an imac for instance, (although I’m not sure how much that is down to me wanting to hack and push it, as opposed to ‘normal use’) but if you’re fed up of seeing an iphone everywhere you turn, then go Droid. Without paying extra (with a 24 month contract at about £30), you get a phone that has all the bells and whistles of the top-end iphone – compass, video recording and a slightly better camera than the iphone as well as all the apps you would reasonably want on a phone without it becoming a complete entertainment system.

If you feel just the smallest pang of jealousy when someone whips out an iphone and you want something that will ‘just work’ , play nicely with your itunes and want the ability to get the latest app or high-end game every Sunday paper supplement is talking about then you’ll need an iphone – but if you do, wait until June when the new one will be out (at a premium) and the current models come down in price.

Gizmodo Legend Review:
http://gizmodo.com/5488019/htc-legend-review-frankly-it-feels-expensive

TechRadar Desire Review:
http://www.techradar.com/reviews/phones/mobile-phones/htc-desire-679515/review

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