Moving to Android

Volume 13, Issue 35; 13 Oct 2010; last modified 10 Nov 2010

Two years ago, I took the plunge on an iPhone because I really didn't think that there were any comperable alternatives. That's hardly the case today.

Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you criticize him, you're a mile away and you have his shoes.

I had real reservations when I bought my iPhone. Two years later, nothing has changed to alleviate my concerns, so, finally free of my contractual shackles, I left the walled garden behind and embraced my inner Android.

I flirted briefly with the Samsung Vibrant before settling, at least for the moment, on the T-Mobile G2. (I want a phone that works in Europe, so none of the CDMA carriers are interesting to me, though some of the devices look pretty sweet.)

The display on the Vibrant is spectacular. Some of the reviews described the phone as “cheap and plasticy”, but that wasn't my experience. It's very light, but felt solid enough to me. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, the TouchWiz UI suffers from the unacceptable drawback that notifications are an all-or-nothing thing. I want calendar notifications to always happen, notifications for other things, (particularly email) never. If that's possible, I couldn't figure out how.

Three or four days after I bought the Vibrant, T-Mobile rolled out the G2 (Ain't that always the way?). Happily, the store where I bought the phone was willing to do an exchange without question, so I traded the Vibrant in for the G2.

Not only does the G2 let me configure notifications (though, in fairness, calendar notifications remain sub-optimal, ringing exactly once and briefly), it has a physical keyboard. That really is nicer.

The fact that the G2 is hard to root permanently pisses me off, but I fully expect the hackers to win. In the meantime, word of an official T-Mobile update that will enable tethering through the G2 means I may never bother.

Both phones are fast, but since I'm comparing them to a two-year old iPhone 3G, that's probably not really surprising.

On the whole, I really like Android. It's rougher around the edges, but it works for me. I like the four dedicated buttons (Home, Menu, Back, and Search) that seem to be standard. I like the UI. I'm not frightened in the slightest by the prospect that I might find porn in the marketplace. (I might find fart apps too, and I'm no more interested in them.)

The only apps that I had on the iPhone that I can't get on the Android are a few games and OmniFocus. I'll miss the games, until they're ported or I find better ones. I'll miss OmniFocus, but honestly, I didn't use the phone version that much. Following Edd’s lead, I'm going to investigate Nozbe. (Oh, and Edd, 1Password is now available on Android and works flawlessly for me.)

I haven't got the hang of Swype yet, and since I have a physical keyboard, I probably never will. I will say without hesitation that the predictive text on the Android positively sucks when compared to the iPhone. The soft keyboard is correspondingly harder for me to use.

I think I'll be quite happy on Android. And I've got my eye on one of those iTabs for Christmas, too.

[Update 10 Nov 2010] The official T-Mobile update didn't include tethering, but the hackers have already won. I believe there's a tethering app that works on the rooted phone, so I'll probably go ahead and root it.


Congrats on the site redesign! I noticed that the wikipedia link to the T-Mobile G2 is mangled. At least, when I clicked on it, wikipedia complained. Looks like it has to do with the underscore?

—Posted by Joe Wicentowski on 14 Oct 2010 @ 11:29 UTC #

Thanks, Joe. Good catch. It was a formatting glitch caused by a newline in the source. normalize-space is your friend, Norm.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 14 Oct 2010 @ 05:35 UTC #

The CSS tweaks you made to make things work better on your G2 improve presentation on the iPhone. I suspect a rising tide lifts all Webkit boats. ☺

—Posted by d.w. on 14 Oct 2010 @ 06:28 UTC #

"you have his shoes." Billy Connolly FTW!

—Posted by James Abley on 14 Oct 2010 @ 08:01 UTC #

I have been using Cyanogenmod on my T-Mobile MyTouch for almost a year now. Absolutely love it! Congrats on the new phone and new site!

—Posted by Scott Hudson on 15 Oct 2010 @ 10:32 UTC #

Did you consider N900 even for a second? Or was it too geeky for you?

—Posted by Matěj Cepl on 19 Oct 2010 @ 06:10 UTC #

I did. But I decided I wanted to give an Android phone a spin.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 20 Oct 2010 @ 08:05 UTC #

On task management, you might try Remember the Milk.

—Posted by Bruce on 10 Nov 2010 @ 08:43 UTC #

I've been very happy with my $50 LG Ally running Android. Haven't played with the Python scripting, but it's good to know it's there...

—Posted by Bob DuCharme on 11 Nov 2010 @ 01:42 UTC #