Is There Food?

by Daniel Woolstencroft

iPhone 3GS to Nexus One: Day 5 - “Woah?”

So much for a post a day eh?

Here I am: day 5 of using a Nexus One instead of an iPhone 3GS. Despite feeling genuine emotion while boxing up my 3GS for sale, I don’t think I’ve really missed it. Much.

I’ve been taking notes in Evernote as things occur to me, so for the sake of brevity I’m just going to throw down a list:

RSS Readers - this was the first thing I went in search of an the Market, and the only thing I’m still not happy with. The state of RSS reader apps on Android is pretty poor. I’ve got NewsRob installed now, but compared to the best of the iPhone (Reeder and MobileRSS, and maybe NetNewsWire) it’s a poor relation. I’m using the web app now, which is probably the best interface to Google Reader on Android, but I really miss Reeder.

Instapaper - My Instapaper workflow is dead in the water on Android. I used to skim in Reeder, send longer articles to Instapaper, then read them later in the day. No more.

Multi Tasking - first big Woah moment. I didn’t think true multitasking would be a big deal, but when you can actually use it, it changes your opinion. Hopping between apps with no lag, and no care about them retaining their state is a great feeling.

Google Navigation - surprisingly capable sat nav app. And also: multitasking! Simple things, like replying to an SMS while sat nav continues to run, really do make me smile.

Mail client - I haven’t tried with anything other than Gmail, because I hitched my horse to that particular email product many moons ago, but it’s a far better fit on Android than the iPhone. And seeing as Apple are so often at loggerheads with Google these days, I can’t see the iPhone client becoming a better fit any time soon.

Typing - initially I thought it was horrible. Now I’m not so sure. Word prediction is a great feature, and you rarely have to type more than 4 characters. It’s a totally different approach to the iPhone, but each is probably valid. My Nexus One has some random screen uncalibration fit which throws key presses off, so that doesn’t help. But I’m learning to live with that.

Install via Email - Woah #2: I sent myself an install package over email, and the email app gave me a big “install” button right then and there. Of course, there’s a security implication here, but if you’re stupid enough to arbitrarily install emailed files you deserve what’s coming.

Notifications - are amazing. This is less of a “woah” and more of an ongoing “ooh, aah, lovely”. Above all other things, this is Android’s best UI feature for me. Apple take note: releasing the iPhone HD with the same old crappy notification system will be a huge mistake.

Signal strength - is better than the 3GS. People have moaned about the Nexus One’s signal, but it holds a call better than my iPhone, using the same network, and driving the same route.

File downloads - Woah #3: download a file, and simply tap it in the filesystem to launch it.

Network file copy - Woah #4: film my son’s sports day, come home, kick off a file copy to network attached storage while I make a copy of tea, watch videos on a big screen. Awesome.

Oleophobic screen - Or rather the lack. The Nexus One’s screen gets pretty funky after a while. It’s also pretty much impossible to use in direct sunlight.

Battery life - or again, the lack of it. Days 2 and 3 with my Nexus One resulted in the device not being alive when I got home, which is something my iPhone’s never done. This was actually very inconvenient on day 3 as there were people I needed to get in touch with. I actually used a pay phone for the first time in roughly 15 years.

I’m done. Sorry for the gratuitous list action there, but it seems the best way to get my thoughts down quickly. And that’s what these posts are supposed to be about, right?

I’ll say this: today, with the iPad being launched, I’m incredibly tempted to take the cash from the sale of my 3GS and grab myself an iPad, then sign up for a new contract with Orange and get an HTC Desire. The reason for this is simple: the things Android does well, are phone related activities, the things I primarily want to do out of the house. The things I miss about the iPhone are things that would typically take place in the comfort of my own home, and this I can probably achieve better with an iPad anyway. There’s a disconnect between the two platforms that I’m sure may be bridged over time, with a few well thought out apps and some Android and Apple savvy developers.

That would be madness though, wouldn’t it? A smidgen over a week from the announcement of the next iPhone, it would be insane to lock myself into a new contract for 18 months. If the next iPhone offers some of the things I’m expecting (iPad level battery life, increased durability, 720p video recording) then I’m going to have a tough decision on my hands. Add to that Apple’s stellar customer support (I’ve never been anything other than stunned by how accommodating they’ve been in my local Apple Store) and each device probably has an equal number of pros and cons.

And that’s saying something isn’t it? A year ago I was saying Android was a toy, that it wouldn’t ever be taken seriously. And now, here I am, taking it very seriously. Well played Google. Your move Apple.

See you in a few days.