Is There Food?

by Daniel Woolstencroft

iPhone 3GS to Nexus One: Day 11 - “What next?”

A few things have happened in the last 6 days. Some good, some bad.

Let’s do the bad first.

I tried to buy an app from Android’s Market (note: not market place, not app store, just market). And I couldn’t.

It turns out that if you’re using a Google Apps account (mail, calendar, contacts), and a Google account (reader, picasa, etc) with identical email addresses (so they’re both you can snooker yourself and end up not being able to buy apps. Ouch. There’s a way around it involving creating new google accounts, changing email addresses and the like, but that’s a lot of hoop jumping if I’m not staying on Android.

Then I discovered that the same problem applies to Picasa. Android automatically works out if your account has Picasa linked to it, and shows you all the Picasa functionality in the Gallery app. Not so if you’ve snookered yourself.

The camera isn’t particularly great either. It takes a decent enough photo, for sure, but it just doesn’t react very quickly. Trying to take photos of two small children isn’t easy with something as sluggish as the Nexus One’s camera app. The iPhone at least works its magic in ways which we can only try to understand, but it’s little things like that which really make the difference.

And then there are the good things.

Things like Google Navigation, which is damned impressive for a freebie. Things like SMS Popup that allow you to transform the way the phone responds to incoming text messages. Twicca, which might actually be my favourite ever Twitter app. And the best, top most good thing that’s happened over the last few days, at least for Android, is that I’m actually starting to contemplate a long term future with an Android device.

And that’s just about the biggest compliment I can make to the platform. This Nexus One, running FroYo (2.2) that I thought I’d probably hate and that would cause me spend the last 11 days pining for my iPhone has totally transformed my view of the OS. It’s now, in no uncertain terms, viable. More than that, it presents a clear and present danger to Apple’s dominance.

(and I mean dominance in a metaphorical sense: Apple are seen as the ones to beat in the smartphone arena. They set this ball rolling, they were ahead of the curve. Now, not so much.)

So what’s my next move? I have three options:

1) Get myself an HTC Desire. It looks like the custom rom scene is starting to gather momentum, so it shouldn’t be too long before the community have a fully operational FroYo rom for the Desire. It’s a nice piece of hardware. This would also free up funds to by an iPad.

2) Get myself a Dell Streak. This has sort of snuck onto my list in the last few days. Originally I thought it didn’t feature a phone, but it turns out it does. It’s not a tablet, Dell are barking up totally the wrong tree in my opinion by marketing it as such, but it’s a fascinating sounding bit of kit. Questions are: will it make you look like a tit if you use it as a phone (it has a 5 inch screen)? What’s the battery life like? Why are the shipping it with Android 1.6? And when will it get an update? Oh, and my favourite: will anyone actually buy it if all of the above are negative? This too would free up funds to by an iPad, as I can get the Streak as an upgrade on my current tariff. But would I need the Streak AND an iPad?

3) Go with the next iPhone, as originally planned. A few days ago this was a sure thing. Nothing else entered into it. Now, I’m not so sure. I have to see what Apple do on Monday. If they simply release the hardware we’ve seen leaked, running the same OS4 I’ve already used on my 3GS, then do we have a compelling update? Things like the better shutter speed, potential 720p video recording, and increased durability all tick boxes, and there’s no way I could hand a Desire or Streak to one of my children to keep them amused. This option would rule out the iPad purchase - it’s likely that the iPhone update would set me back most of what I’ve raised from the 3GS sale.

But the freedom you’re offered by Android, in fact the sense of power you get from leaping between apps, downloading files, and generally doing anything you like on the handset is addictive. It’s why I can’t write Android off just yet.

A few days ago I’d decided that in six months time I’d almost certainly get an Android device. I was going to wait until after the next update, let the release cycle slow down a bit, and then get myself whatever the current device was assuming Apple continued on their present course. Now I’m not so sure. Many people I’ve spoken to use their iPhone less now they have an iPad, so is an Android handset plus iPad the ultimate combo?

We shall see.

I’ll be posting my thoughts on the WWDC keynote over at Blogomatic3000 on Monday night, and I’ll report back here once I’ve made my decision. I’m hoping to have a play with the Dell Streak tomorrow, so I may post some thoughts on that too.