See You on All About Android

January 7, 2013

It's the New Year and for me that means a new show: starting tomorrow, January 8th, I'm the newest co-host of All About Android alongside Jason Howell and Ron Richards. AAA is "your weekly source for the latest news, hardware, and apps for the Android faithful." I should admit upfront: I'm an Android unfaithful.

I started using Android 1.6 on the G1 in 2008, and since then I've owned every Nexus device except for the 4 and the 10. I released an Android app in January of 2011, and I still love firing up Eclipse to stretch my Java muscles and add a new feature or fix a bug. I've suffered through Honeycomb, the Logitech Revue, the Motorola Xoom, the Droid, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the Nexus Q. I'm holding out (very cautious) hope for Project Glass.

Still, I spent 2012 using an iPhone 4S—for two reasons. My immediate goal was to dogfood my newly-released iOS app. My longterm objective was to get some perspective. Until then I was so ensconced in Android I felt out of touch with what everyone seemed to think was "just better" about the Apple side of things. You can't truly criticize or praise software as intimate as your mobile phone operating system until you live with it day in and day out for months. (This is what's wrong with most assertions in the iOS versus Android debate; they come from people who haven't really lived with one of the candidates. They "test" it.)

2012 was a good year. There are many wonderful things about iOS on an iPhone 4S.

In 2013 I'm back on Android, using Jellybean on my Galaxy Nexus. I miss a couple of things about the iPhone: the camera (so fast, such good photos), certain iOS-only or better-on-iOS apps (Timehop, Lift, Twitter, Flickr), the lack of "Force Close" dialog boxes. But Jellybean is by far the best that Android has ever been. I missed the customizability and configurability, the variety of devices, the community and culture of hackers and tweakers that surround Android. On some level I even miss the ugly, insane, 152-checkbox apps that let you trigger a custom action when you're exactly 17 feet from home, with the handset turned face-down, by saying the words "kangaroo spider"—because they're possible.

I'm not a big hardware enthusiast. At some point a class of devices is good enough and slight upgrades like a faster processor or more storage just doesn't matter to me. As far as I'm concerned, software and services are where it's at, and that's where Android shines. Google's native apps in particular and their tight integration into Android, including the holy-crap-this-is-the-future Google Now, are unbeatable for someone like me, whose life is embedded in Gmail, Calendar, Voice, Docs, Maps, Chrome, etc.

Android and iOS have a whole lot to learn from one another, and I plan to bring that perspective to All About Android. In return, I hope viewers and listeners will shame me into holo-theming Todo.txt for Android once and for all.

All About Android streams live on Tuesday evenings at 5pm Pacific. Subscribe to the audio or video feed in your podcatcher of choice here.