Why It’s Hard to Love Android

August 4, 2009

Tom Insam lists all the valid reasons he thinks it's hard to love Android on the HTC G1 (the handset I have), including slow performance, a bad music-listening experience, fewer apps, and a less-than-responsive keyboard. I'd add the G1's terrible battery life and lack of a headphone jack to the list. For the record, I love Android the operating system and think it has great potential. However, I can't wait for it to show up on better handsets than the G1.

Gina, I couldn’t agree more! I LOVE the Android OS but have serious issues w/ the G1. My non-technical friends have difficulty separating those 2 things (hardware and OS) so it makes convincing them that Android is the future very difficult. I keep hearing that we’ll have more hardware options later this year…I just hope that’s true!
It kind of bothers me that Google hasn’t pushed the hardware suppliers harder for more efficient phones. I’m anti-apple, but their ability to control hardware and software make their solutions very difficult to match!

kylejhunt [+3]
Aug 4 09 at 10:31 am

Gina:

Am I the only person on the planet who actually *likes* the G1′s keyboard? And the “music-listening experience” doesn’t bother me much because I’m usually doing it in noisy locations such as train stations, etc. And for me, battery life really improved after the Cupcake release.

My pet peeves are (1) it takes forever for the phone to realize that I’ve switched from, say, landscape to portrait orientation, and (2) if I get a new SMS and just clear the notification, I get another (bogus) notification later on when I go into the Messaging app.

It seems the only reason people get excited about Android is the concept behind it and what it has the potential to do, rather than what it actually does.

I find it hard to understand those who opt for phones other than the iPhone, since most geeks I know like to use gadgets that have the most functionality and tweaking. And even though the iPhone is technically not as “open”, there is a great amount of functionality provided by the app store that at the end of the day I think is well worth the sacrifice of background apps and Google Voice.

Ted Avery [+13]
Aug 4 09 at 10:49 am

Are you looking at the HTC Hero or the myTouch yet? The Hero looks the most promising. The review video looks amazing and the slugishness claim seems a bit over rated.

Josh Wilkins
Aug 4 09 at 10:50 am

I have to say, I have very few of these problems with the G1. I don’t have experience with the iPhone to compare, but the speed has never been an issue for me. Likewise, I’ve heard any number of people complain about battery life. Maybe I got lucky, but I generally have a quarter tank to go at the end of the day. Are there areas that could be improved? Certainly. But none that are dealbreakers. I’m the kind of person who likes figuring out my own ways to solve all those little annoyances, rather than buying all the solutions from Apple.

Nerdsavant
Aug 4 09 at 10:53 am

@Ted: Android is simply a better OS than the iPhone software for heavy Google Apps users, IMO. The Gmail client on Android is unsurpassed, and the Google Voice app is a huge deal for heavy GV users (believe me). I love that you sign in with your Google account and bam, all your mail and calendar events are instantly on the phone, no setup/syncing required.

Android has a long way to go, with lots more potential integration: Google Docs, bookmarks, Tasks, a native GReader app, etc.

But even in its current form, it’s a great OS, not just potentially a great one. I’m especially a big fan of keyboard shortcuts and the window shade notifications, neither of which are available on the iPhone.

Gina Trapani [+195]
Aug 4 09 at 10:57 am

I can’t wait to get an phone running android. I am not a fan of HTC’s skinned approach though. I find that apps do not work as well on a skinned OS than on its standard form.
Probably get the hero when it’s released anyway.

Ru Viljoen [+2]
Aug 4 09 at 11:50 am

Hi Gina. I have exactly the same opinion using Android on the G1 for a year except I liked the keyboard – certainly compared to the touch screen I’m thumbing on now. But otherwise I felt like a permanent beta tester and wasn’t benefiting from early access to the technology.

Ted Rheingold
Aug 4 09 at 11:57 am

@Dan Giancaterino

have you tried DroidSans TweakLite for the swapping orientation?

for the SMS thing- if you use a secondary SMS client you must disable notification in the primary SMS client. also some conflicts can occur in things like dgAway.

as for the keyboard- i love it. i can write on that half as fast as on a computer but a whole lot faster than anyone of a softkeyboard.

ffolliet [+4]
Aug 4 09 at 11:59 am

HTC Dream and Magic hit Canada (start of July, if I remember right). I haven’t been hands-on with the Magic, and haven’t owned either one, but just perusing the official materials on HTC’s site, it looks like the Magic (which doesn’t have the physical Qwerty keyboard) has a slightly longer battery life, and specifically claims stereo audio via Bluetooth. No mention of a standard headphone jack, looks like the same extUSB port at the Dream. To be honest, I think I’d be hard-pressed to give up the physical keyboard for any enhancements the Magic appears to (maybe) offer. That’s a matter of personal taste, granted.

UnMicD [+8]
Aug 4 09 at 12:37 pm

For the record, I love the physical keyboard too. But lately, the w key isn’t as responsive as it used to be–often takes a second, harder press to get it to work.

Gina Trapani [+195]
Aug 4 09 at 1:00 pm

I wish the G1 had more space for apps (without rooting it). If I get below 15MB free, the phone gets sluggish. And the music player skips a bunch too. There’s so many cool things to like about Android, but it seems the hardware can’t handle it sometimes. I don’t like the fact that I have to pick and choose what apps to keep, and what I must remove in order to save space. I do still love my phone though. And the physical keyboard is great.

Barron Fujimoto [+2]
Aug 4 09 at 2:09 pm

Perhaps it’s just me, but I happen to find the Google mobile web versions of gmail and greader perfectly usable on the iPhone. Yes, the iPhone’s built-in mail app blows, but the mobile web version is fine for me. It’s not always accessible (e.g., on a plane), but I can suffer with the Apple mail app for those rare times.

While the iPhone has a number of issues, I’m happy with the mobile web gmail and greader.

AJ Robins [+5]
Aug 4 09 at 4:20 pm

@Gina: Are there any Android devices coming out that got you excited? I’ve got my eye on the XPERIA by Sony Ericsson.

Dr.Jeckyl [+3]
Aug 5 09 at 12:46 am

I have had a HTC Magic (G2?) for some time now (UK Vodafone) and I love Android. I just wish the touch screen was as responsive as on my iPod Touch. I sometimes wish it had a keyboard.

I think my ideal device would be an Android phone with the form factor of the HTC Touch Pro 2, or the Nokia N97 – fast processor (as the rumoured Sony Android device) and the touch screen of the iPhone/iPod Touch.

Battery life isn’t too much of a concern, as long as it will last a whole day of normal use (My Magic generally does).

A trackball like the Magic has would be a bonus.

grimmy [+5]
Aug 5 09 at 3:35 am

@Gina

I switched recently to Android (Samsung i7500 Galaxy). I’m enjoying the experience so far. I think an article on Android apps might be interesting. I’d really would like to know what are your favorites, specially when it comes to productivity.

infovore [+1]
Aug 8 09 at 4:33 am

@infovore: Here’s a list of Android apps I like (a little dated, but still pretty on).

Gina Trapani [+195]
Aug 8 09 at 10:07 am

For those that haven’t seen it, with the availability of a one click rooting solution, a bunch of the G1′s ails can be solved by using a custom rom image, like cyanogen’s. I just performed this hack, and fell in love with my G1 all over again. The OS responds much quicker, the camera and vidcamera functions are improved, and just overall, its a much more enjoyable experience. I can live with the headphone jack and whatever, but, if android can up the ante with features, and better apps (i wish iphone app devs would become android app devs), and the hardware can be built to support it, it truly will be the winner.

jainer123
Aug 25 09 at 7:17 am


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