Sunday, April 14, 2013

An iPhone Fanboy Goes Back to iPhone

My attempt to give Android a full and fair trial period has died in its infancy. I got nowhere near the 30 days that I originally planned. Ultimately, it lasted about a week. Using an underpowered phone ended up being the fatal flaw in my plan. The phone struggled to do simple tasks, like play background audio. The one game I tried to play, Where's My Water, locked up so many times it was unplayable. Multitasking was useless due to the tiny memory size.

So, you might say, "Get a better phone, and try again." Unfortunately, that isn't going to work. As I mentioned in my previous post, I do not want a phone with a giant screen, and I was unable to find a decent phone in that size. Plus, given how heavily I am invested in iOS, Android would have to be leaps and bounds better to get me to switch. I remember Steve Jobs saying back in the NeXT days that in order to get people to switch to a new product it would need to be five or ten times better. People won't switch for something that is equal or slightly better. Android is not five or ten times better. I'm not ready to say it is better at all.

Right out of the gate, Android stumbled. The Nexus S I bought arrived with Gingerbread on it. No problem. I had already read that OTA updates for the Nexus S were available all the way up to Jelly Bean 4.1.2. I did everything I could find to get the phone to update with no luck. Every time I checked for available updates, none were available. After an entire evening of searching and manual updates, I finally got the phone to 4.1.2. Apple is miles better in this area. If I had purchased a old iPhone, all I would have to do in most cases is check for an update, and after about 20-30 minutes, I'd be running the latest iOS that phone supports. The worst case scenario would be a phone running something earlier 5.0. In that case, all I have to do is connect the phone to iTunes and update via USB.

After I got the phone set up and installed replacement apps for the functions I relied on my iPhone for, I carried the Nexus S around and tethered it to my iPhon for a week. I couldn't switch out the SIM cards and make a full switch because the one Micro SIM adapter I had ended up getting used to replace my daughter's iPhone, which took a swim. I tried to stick with the Nexus S for all tasks, but the audio issues and lag kept sending me back to the iPhone. When I gave up completely and put everything back on the iPhone, it was like slipping on an old glove.

There was a lot to like about Android. The flexibility of the OS is very attractive to a hacker like me. Don't like how something works? Download a replacement. On iOS you are at Apple's mercy for most of these kinds of things.

I also fell in love with the Nexus S form factor. It is not much bigger than my 4S, but the jump in screen size from 3.5" to 4.0" is very pleasant. I really wish Apple had gone wider and longer in its jump to 4.0" with the iPhone 5. A larger screen in the same aspect ratio would have been so much better.

So, in the end, I found the flexibility in Android to be very nice, but size, comfort and investment issues will probably keep me in an iPhone for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

An iPhone Fanboy Tries Android

I haven't written here in a while, but I'm about to undertake a project that I think would be good to document as I go along. I'm going to be trying out an Android phone for at least a month in place of my iPhone 4S. This is significant because I am an iPhone fanboy. Ask anyone who knows me. I generally have nothing good to say about anything other than iOS. But it occurred to me that I should really try out Android if I am to be an objective critic. Thus, this experiment was born.

I'm not completely inexperienced with Android. For a few months shortly after it came out, I experimented with a Nook Color that was, at first, just rooted. Later, I installed CyanogenMod 7. It didn't go very well. I ran into quite a few annoyances, and eventually switched to an iPad. In retrospect, it wasn't really a fair test of Android. The Nook Color isn't the best device to show what Android can do. Especially running a pre-Honeycomb version on a tablet device.

This time around I am setting up a fair evaluation. That is, as fair an evaluation I can without spending too much money. So, I set out to find an Android phone that could run at least Jelly Bean 4.1 without breaking the bank. After some research I settled on the Samsung Google Nexus S. It can be had for about $150, has a stock upgrade to Jelly Bean, and is compatible with many custom ROMs like CyanogenMod. Another thing that makes it attractive is the 4" screen. The smaller screen is a plus for me. The vast majority of the time I'm using my phone, it's while holding it in one hand and tapping and typing with my thumb. My hands aren't very big, and I know from trying out larger phones that I can't comfortably use a 4.5"+ screen with one hand. This may cause a problem later if I end up wanting to switch, since there are no good, small Android phones anymore. But I'll cross that bridge when, and if, I come to it.

The Nexus S arrives tomorrow. Here we go. Next: Set up the phone and replace the functions that I rely upon on my iPhone with Android apps and functions.