Monday, August 16, 2010

android adventures

I sold a couple of my WM smartphones on eBay to pay for a 1st-generation Android device, the original G1. Stop laughing.

Thumbnail: Android is awesome. Highly configurable/hackable. Plenty of free apps. Screen is beautiful. Awesome user community. Battery life is terrible.

On my love/hate relationship with Apple
Apple hardware is well-designed, but is not IMO suitable for power users. It's great for folks that want to do stuff but not understand how it works or venture off the official trail. I don't say this dismissively; that approach meets the needs of many people who have $ to spend. Using Apple is like wearing a great suit that gets you many compliments but you can never take off. (Exception: flashing rockbox firmware onto iPod is the best of both worlds).

I also find it annoying that good technology exists for years, then crApple* puts a slick design on it and the crowd goes wild. Then other companies knock off the crApple knock off.
Examples: smartphones, tablets, mp3 players.

iTunes is an abomination. I am pretty sure that iTunes use is a kind of litmus test for whether or not you will like The Apple Experience.

On this annoying swipe interface
Oh, Minority Report. How I hate you for those scenes with Tom Cruise manipulating/swiping/flicking data on a screen. That meme has positively infected high-end mobile devices. Arghhh. Cpu intensive, self-consciously blingy, and not terribly useful.

One of the nice things about Android is that the interface allows you to put things like nav dots on the screen to change homescreens more efficiently.

Android in general
I'm sold on Android. Good stuff. I even downloaded the SDK and look forward to compiling the 'hello, Android' app. :-P Will keep you posted. My understanding is that Android uses the Java language but not the official Sun/Java/Oracle libraries. The VM is different but I don't understand the significance of that yet.

I'd like to see less attention on bling and more on performance and battery life.

I think Android is pretty bad on Android in general. I don't think it's necessarily a function of my old G1.
Recalibrating the battery gauge may help somewhat.
Turning off unneeded services (wifi, gps, whatever) will help, as will dimming the screen backlight.
I do not pay for a data plan on my carrier so I use wifi; this probably makes matters worse.

I had gotten used to plugging in smartphones every 2 days or so to top off. Android requires a paradigm shift; if you are near a power source it is in your best interest to plug it in. A dock would be nice.

Android multitasks for real and does a good job of it.

Quasi-"Multitasking" on the iPhone is derided by many folks but I don't have a problem with it. Task switching plus limited background functionality is good enough for my purposes. It's basically what PalmOS did and it works fine. Should be easier on the batts, also.

Android apps and market
As of this writing the Market is populated enough with freeware that I unplugged my Treo 650 and cradle and put it away. I put the Dash phones up for auction without a moment's delay.

G1 specific
The G1 looks incredibly ugly in photos. In person it is only a bit ungainly. It is not aggressively ugly.

I don't use the trackball except in the Amon RA recovery image menus or to keep the screen active if I don't want it to time out (I use the 15sec backlight for batt purposes).

The hardware is minimal (528 MHz. 256 MB ROM, 192 MB RAM) so I needed either SD swap or compcache to run without lag. Currently using compcache.

The camera is pretty bad.

*crApple is a term used by Fab on the Linux Outlaws podcast, which was a tweak on his penchant for saying "it's crap!!!" about whatever he didn't like. Using it here for amusement rather than evaluative purposes.

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