iPhone to Android – One week in

(The post title alone should guarantee enough SPAM for the rest of the year ;) )

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OK, so I guess it will still take a while until Apple comes up with an iPhone with a significantly bigger screen, and my bifocals upgrade much faster. I’m heavily invested in the iOS ecosystem, and I’m also pretty happy with it, but the small screen is just getting too painful for me to bear. So I caved in and got a Galaxy S3.

Ironically what made this move possible is Apple’s move away from iTunes, mostly. I REALLY loved the way iTunes use to handle Podcasts. I listen to podcasts daily on my commute, and the iTunes way was just a “plug in and forget” mode that never failed me. Now everything gets its own app, everything is iCloud, and nothing works as predictably as before. Mail and everything else is in the cloud anyway (GMail, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr), MP3 and podcast handling was really what held me back so far.

OK, so how do I like it?

The Hardware

The screen is gorgeous. The resolution doesn’t really matter, but size and quality does. I can read it much easier, and that was the main reason for switching.

The case dimensions – not so much. It’s just the right size to be used with one hand, but it’s way too slippery: I liked the iPhone’s metal corners and edges a lot more.

The Micro USB connector? Don’t get me started… And as much as we all hate Apple’s proprietary connectors, at least you can buy AUX car kits for them, which you can’t for Android devices. Yes, I do get the concept of bluetooth and A2DP, but as long as car companies don’t provide more than one bluetooth connection the current one is reserved for my work phone. I use a cheap (…) bluetooth to AUX dongle, but it’s a PITA.

Android OS

Fascinating. Of course I immediately installed CyanogenMod, but I’m still puzzled about so many inconsistencies.

There is the home screen with all the nifty widgets (clock and weather for me, that’s more than enough), and you put your favourite programs on it. Every time I want to use something that’s not there I swipe to an empty homescreen page before I remember I need to use the middle icon – but that may be iOS muscle memory.

Notifications is the biggest piece of crap ever – I can’t understand why iPhone users asked for it so much. The phone beeps in sleep mode, then I need to press a button (which is at least a hardware button on the S3, in contrast to the side power button on the Nexus 4) and all I see is an icon at the top. Then I need to unlock, and _still_ I only see the icon. I pull down from the top, only then do I get to the App.
I have now installed a different launcher and an app that adds a counter to stuff like GMail. Seriously, that’s a productivity killer.

What I really like is the backup to my Google account, I just wish I could manage that easier. It should also be possible for non-Google apps to store their credentials there, for example. Also, like on iOS, you can add accounts to Twitter and Facebook in setting, but still some apps will open native web login pages.

For podcasts I’m using Pocket Casts which works quite well. The one advantage of Android is that it will download new episodes in the background. Skipping a defined amount of time by tapping on the right side of the screen is also very helpful. (I’m still waiting for a community driven service that defines markers that players can use to skip the ad segments in podcasts – anyone? ;) ).

Android file/memory management is outright weird. Some devices have SD cards, others don’t, which means you have to tell each app to use it. There should at least be a central settings screen to define that.

Then there’s apps like Google Music which are not even interested in SD cards – 16GB of music has to be enough for everyone! I mean, give me a break…
The app itself is confusing as hell – I never know where I am, or which music is on my device or in the cloud, or what I need to do to change that – aaarghhh!

I may eventually get used to all that – but as soon as Apple brings us a bigger iPhone I’ll switch back…