So, I’m done with the iPhone. And to the estimated 1.5 million of you who bought iPhone 4s yesterday, and the astounding 77% of you who upgraded from a prior iPhone, I wish you the best of luck. The AT&T issues are just too much for me to agree to give 2 more years (with a $350 Early Termination Fee) with the more inept (well, save BP) corporation in America to “figure things out”. I ranted at length about this before over on my Tumblr, so I’ll save the details of that argument.
In preparation for my inevitable cut over to an Android phone (sorry Blackberry, Palm and Windows Mobile, you’re just not right for me), I’ve been playing with an unactivated Droid phone that I got for free last year through the graciousness of friends and I’ve discovered a few things since I first tried the phone out and passed on daily usage of that phone then.
- The initial Android release that shipped with that phone (1.5 I believe) and the hardware didn’t ever play nice. I remember having to pull the battery to restart it on several occasions.
- The camera was awful.
- The phone had great service.
- There were very few apps at the time.
In the last year, Android has made up a lot of the difference.
I found that most of the apps I use and tasks I need from a mobile every day are ready available and just as good on Android.
- Twitter (or Tweetie) – yep
- WeatherBug – yep
- Foursquare – yep
- Subway Maps (CityTransit, Exit Strategy) – yep
- Photoshop mobile – yep
- Gmail – yes, and with it’s own app
- Google Calendar – yes, see above
- Exchange email and calendar – yes
- Barcode/QR scanners – multiple
- Tumblr – yes, through a third-party (but it has an annoying bug that makes reblogging a pain in the butt)
- Camera – it’s vastly improved, but admittedly not as good as my iPhone 3G, and this is hardware dependent
- Service – miles and miles and miles better than AT&T
- File system app – yes (iPhone doesn’t have one)
- Physical keyboard – yes, on this model, though the OS level on-screen one is fine and Swype will help make up the difference on newer Android models
The stability issues I saw have been all but totally corrected with the release of Android 2.1 (and the promise of 2.2 or FroYo) just makes it a better platform. The Android market has a lot of potential in it’s openness, and will someday soon have more potential user than Apple will.
The one biggest drawback of Android has been the media integration and transfer. There’s no denying that the “ecosystem” of iPhone with iTunes is great. (Proof? I did buy an iPad and I loved it. Still do. What’s different? No AT&T. But I digress).
In terms of music, I actually prefer the Amazon MP3 store, which is available natively on the phone and offers a direct download service just as good as iTunes is. I actually buy most of the music I played on my iPhone from there as well.
The biggest drawback of media on Android is file transfer. Plugging in your phone to iTunes and having it sync your music is really easy.
Enter DoubleTwist, which has both a iTunes like desktop client, and an Android app that closely match the iTunes experience. It will allow you to create playlists, and will let you sync only non-protected music onto your iPhone (I converted most of my old iTunes protected stuff to mp3 long ago, and most of my collection is MP3 or M4A), and while it’s not 100% seamless, it’s good enough to replace this as your mobile music device.
So, what’s next? With the launch of the Droid X, the Droid Incredible on Verizon, and the Evo 4G on Sprint, from a pure hardware perspective, the phones are on par, and often exceed those of the iPhone itself.
I’d argue the user experience, while admittedly, not quite as polished (transitions especially), is now really good enough to get away with daily use, and getting better (especially with UX enhancements like HTC Sense).
So, when my contract runs out in about 4 weeks, I’ll be saying adieu to AT&T for good and never look back. And it’s sad that the iPhone gets caught up in that wash, but Apple made a deal with the devil, and after 3 years of awful AT&T service, two generations of iPhones, and 8 actual devices between my fiance and I, it’s time to say goodbye.
Android, you’ve come a long way, baby.