The Robots Have Me (aka I switched to Android)

The positive reasons why I moved to Android are that it is new, I wanted to play with it, I love Linux, I think Google is on to a good thing, and I can put my music on my phone without the need for software that doesn’t run under Linux*.  I switched from an iPhone 3G to a Motorola Atrix … and wow the change is unbelievable.  I know I was using very old technology**, but even comparing the performance of this phone to various iPhone 4 phones, I haven’t yet seen one perform as well.  After about a month of ownership, I don’t think I can name anything I really dislike about this phone***.  There are, however, things I had trouble with at first and had to fix.

Edit (8/24):  Corrected “iPhone 4” reference.  Added Amarok2 remote app to the “things I just love”.

Edit (8/24):  Added FTP app (like)!

* I can connect my phone, set it to USB Mass Storage mode, and the SD card shows up as a drive.  Sweet!
** by today’s standards
*** stupidity of sticking with AT&T notwithstanding.

Battery Life

The battery life really sucks if you leave the screen brightness on, up, or on automatic.  I’ve found I have to put the handy control bar on my home page so I can turn up the brightness if I’m outside and want to use the phone, and then turn it down again.  As a result, the battery life went from lousy to insanely good.

Keyboard

It’s a little different from the iPhone.  The big thing is to learn how to use the help and understand that you can tap on any word and alternate spellings will be shown for you.  This trumps the iPhone (3G?) soundly in this regards.  Updates in Gingerbread (see below for that awesomeness!) made word highlighting even better.

Rampant Tasks

Being Linux-y, this is more like a pocket computer.  Tasks start and they run until you stop them.  If you don’t stop them, they can suck up memory, CPU time, and power.  However, the built-in task manager has an auto-kill list that works nicely.  There are some things you shouldn’t put there (like anything that looks like a system application) and so far learning-by-mistake has not resulted in a dead phone.

Multiple Screens

I disliked that I can’t control the number of screens (or pages, or whatever they’re called).  I’d like to reduce them and have my own… and start from the left and have the others “to the right”.  The fix was to get used to it and organize my information better and more usably.

Randomly Stops Playing Music

I ride the train to work.  I have found that as the phone switches cells this causes some kind of connectivity issue for the phone and the music player will stop playing.  I’ve filed a bug on this.  The solution is to connect to the train’s wifi.  No ideal, but works for now.

. . .

In addition to the things I had to fix, there are things I just love about this phone.

FTP App

There’s are FTP applications that will let me SFTP files from my phone to my computer.  I can cut and paste files from my phone to my desktop computer over my wireless network.  This right here is a “technology is awesome” moment.

Netflix Streaming Content

For various reasons, being able to be entertained while trying to fall asleep is sometimes helpful for me.  Being able to watch streaming content on my phone is far more useful, far more amusing, and getting far more use than I ever thought it would.

Google Contact and Calendar Sync

For a long time I resisted putting much information into The Google.  This, however, has become very handy.  One place to keep my contact information and if I change my phone, sync’ing is supremely easy.  Convenience won out here.  As for the Calendar, I keep everything really vague and in my own short-hand.  I’m the only person who is (or should be!) looking at it, so that works for me.

Fingerprint Scanner Unlock

This is just way cool and it’s hard to find more words than that to say for it.

Variety of Weather Apps

I’m not a weather junky, but I do need to know the weather for two, well-separated regions (home and work).  Being able to do this easily is nice.  Accuweather on the iPhone was crashing often for me and some of their updates to it had removed usefulness.  Perhaps it was the older phone itself, but this is something this move/upgrade resolved for me.

Calendar on the Home Page

I ask the same question every day:  what am I doing?  As long as I remember to put things in my calendar, that question is easily answered.

It’s Still an MP3 Player

Yay!

There’s an Amarok2 Remote App

I run Linux at home (Kubuntu) and use Amarok as my music player.  I’ve been looking for a way to remote control it because I use a KVM which has my connect-to-work laptop on it too.  That there is an app to remote control Amarok is awesome.  I’ve heard there is something for iTunes on the iPhone which is also cool — but my use case is Android+Kubuntu, so this app won a little piece of my heart.

OS Upgrade Didn’t Nuke My Info

One thing I had accepted, which appeared obvious from other android phones, is that I was going to be stuck with this OS version unless I wanted to jailbreak the phone.  Apparently Google and AT&T decided to change this approach and are now pushing out OS updates to the phones.  So not only did I get upgraded to Gingerbread (2.3.4), but NOTHING got paved like how things would happen with iOS upgrades.  My contacts, email, music, calendar, apps, etc. were all intact afterwards.  That was just freaking awesome

. . .

The Bottom Line

If a person wanted an Android phone, I would have no problems recommending this unit.  However, I would otherwise recommend something from Verizon if good nationwide coverage is what you need.

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About John

I write about technology interests, cooking, and my own writing (sci-fi and fantasy... sometimes both). I try to keep things light, but sometimes I get side-tracked on an issue that I feel strongly about. No offense is meant, I'm just like any other person who feels strongly about something when I write. View all posts by John

2 responses to “The Robots Have Me (aka I switched to Android)

  • Jim Marks

    First and foremost, I hate my iPhone 3G. It may very well be the worst technology decision I’ve ever made. That being said, I use it all the time, and at this point when I travel for pleasure instead of business, I don’t bring my personal laptop anymore, just the Kindle and the iPhone. So, that’s my “context” as they say.

    1) I have gMail and my gCal synced to my iPhone because I have them synced to Mail and iCal on my laptop. Amazingly, it “just works”.

    2) There is a weather app from The Weather Channel which is superior to the built-in weather widget (which is useless even though it lets you do multiple regions) and apparently more stable than the Accuweather one, as I’ve had no problems with it.

    3) Do you have any anecdotal information on Apple users adopting Andriod products in terms of ease of inter-operability and all that? Our current plan is to await the release of the iPhone5 and switch to Verizon at that time, but given how much I hate the iPhone but love having a smart phone, I’m tempted to consider switching if they “play nice” with their main rivals’ OS.

    4) You mentioned iPhone 4G products. There’s no such thing. Even the iPhone5 will not be a 4G product.

    • John

      1) Never tried, but I’m sure it does. Like about anything else, the most used things tend to work on iPhone and Android phones. Overall, the number of things that “just worked” on the iPhone was good.

      2) I despise TWC. In my experience they are flat out wrong all the time. I get information from them to know what the weather won’t be. I also agree that the built in weather app sucks on the iPhone. I tried using Weather Bug but it crashed every time I used it, even after I installed iOS 4. But Weather Bug has a reputation for poor quality to maintain…

      3) I’m seeing more around work where there were once iPhones. i haven’t inquired about how things are going with getting them to “play nice” with Apple’s OS. I imagine it would be about the same as with Linux, except I’ve heard that iTunes will manage music on an Android phone. That might be worth looking up. That also assumes Apple doesn’t pull their usual trick and change iTunes to thwart that (they did that with the iOS to block Linux users from managing their music on Linux).

      4) Thanks for that. Fixed that reference.

      I should have also mentioned that the Atrix is 4G, but I have yet to experience the joy of 4G. The 4G networks around here are lousy.

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