Monthly archives of “March 2010

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Switching from the iPhone 3G to the Nexus One and Android – my story

I was lucky enough to have joined Google in enough time to receive a Nexus One as the company’s holiday gift to employees. Though it has been written about extensively, I wanted to share my perspectives as someone that switched from my previous iPhone 3G to the Nexus One.

(Note that enough though I got the Nexus One, the experience will be very similar for anyone switching to a modern Android phone, such as a Droid or any of the cool new HTC phones that have come out recently.)

The wicked awesome

Power widget / battery management - When I first saw the power widget on my phone’s home screen, I honestly didn’t know what it did. There were five icons, which seemed to toggle on/off. But this widget is fantastic, and allows you to quickly turn battery hogs (such as GPS, WiFi, push notifications, etc) on and off. Compared to digging in a variety of various iPhone menus in the “Settings” app, I can quickly change how much power my phone is using.

And it might be my usage patterns, but I get a LOT more use out of my Nexus One battery than I got out of my iPhone. It was getting to the point where my iPhone would barely last until after lunch, where my Nexus One can easily last all day and my commute home. Not only that, but when my Nexus One battery degrades, I can replace it myself!

Google Maps - This app is just amazing. It’s even got StreetView, and I personally think that the StreetView interface on the phone is superior to the interface on the desktop. I find it hard to describe exactly how fantastic this app is, and how useful it can be. Every time I go somewhere I haven’t been before I use this app.

Flexibility - I love the flexibility of the Android platform. Just the concept of adding widgets to your homescreens is awesome. I’ve been traveling quite a bit recently, and I have little 1×1 widgets on my homescreens that constantly update with the latest exchange rates. There are built in widgets to control music, to search (big surprise there), see news headlines, twitter, etc. Fundamentally there is so much more flexibility in what you can do with an Android phone, and I love it.

Multiple apps - The biggest feature I love is that multiple apps can be running at the same time. This didn’t seem to matter that much when I first switched from the iPhone, but I’ve slowly come to realize how brilliant this is for users. I can click on a link in my Twitter client (I use Seesmic; it’s awesome), open it in a browser, get a notification that I’ve got a new e-mail and open the Gmail client, and then switch back and forth with little or no wait since all the apps are running at the same time. It just makes the experience of using the phone so much faster, particularly for “power” users.

The really good

Unlocked - The Nexus One doesn’t come locked to a carrier. While you may or may not have a contract with that carrier which could be expensive to break, the phone itself is unlocked. I really like that.

Form factor & display - The display is amazing, and really vivid. It’s got an 800 x 400 pixel display, which is over twice the iPhone (which has a 480 x 320 pixel display). It feels great in your hand, and it amazingly thin. While I don’t see the need for a trackball, it’s there and has occasionally been useful to select/edit within a paragraph of small text. It’s just a really solid phone.

Speed - The Nexus One is fast. I switched from an iPhone 3G, and the 3GS is probably a better comparison, but I love the speed of my new phone.

Google integration - I’ve been a Google user since it was still hosted on the Stanford servers. I’ve been a Gmail user since 2004, and have since switched to Google Calendar and Google Contacts. If you use *any* of these products, the Nexus One is amazing. The apps just simply work, and work the way you want them to. Any changes sync back immediately, and you can be much more productive. (Certainly much more productive than I was with my iPhone.)

The needs improvement

The Nexus One and Android isn’t exactly a “Jesus” phone… there are some things I wish it did better.

App Market - Searching and purchasing in the App Market is great. Browsing, however, isn’t. I personally feel that browsing for new apps is something best done on the desktop, and that’s not possible with the App Market as it stands. Hopefully it’ll be something that will change someday.

Sync music - So far I’ve been using DoubleTwist, and certainly recommend it. (And highly recommend getting the DoubleTwist app for your Android phone- it eliminates some annoying steps you would otherwise have to do manually when you plug your phone into your computer.) But it’s not perfect and not quite as slick as iTunes is for the iPhone. That said, I think there’s a lot more I can learn and get configured within DoubleTwist, so I don’t want to be too harsh.

Sound/Vibrate - When I first drafted this list, I wanted to point out that there’s no “silent” switch like there is on the iPhone. However, I’ve since learned about the “Ringer Toggle Widget” which is now on my homescreen. It lets you quickly toggle between normal ringer, silent ringer, and vibrate modes. And even though it’s on the home screen, with multiple apps it means you don’t have to quit out of an app to get to it. With all that said, I do like having a physical switch so I can reach into my pocket in a meeting to make sure the ringer is off!

Summary

I love my Nexus One, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new smartphone.

But more broadly, I’m now a convert to the Android platform. As the iPhone becomes more of a walled garden, I’m really loving the openness and flexibility of the Android platform. Where there are certainly some user experience things I find a little annoying, overall I love the sense that I can make my phone do what I want it to do, and not what Apple thinks I should do with it. Now clearly I’m biased, not least because I work with a team of engineers who also do Android development and work with the community of Android developers. But the trend toward openness and flexibility is something I really look forward to experiencing in the coming years.

PS

For an example of a video I created/uploaded to YouTube directly from my Nexus One, see below. (It’s MGMT in concert in London this last week… on a side note their next album “Congratulations” should be awesome!)

(Not too bad considering how close I was to the speakers.)