I finally got a Droid

So I decided that I’d waited long enough for a new phone. My 18 month free upgrade time came and went because I wasn’t quite ready to buy… and I figured that I’d take a break from renewing before my contract was up and see what the next release would be like.

Eventually, it looked more and more like a keyboard device that was faster and better featured was a good way off, so I made the jump and got a Droid.

With the notable exception of one or two piddly features, there is nothing missing that my old phone had… and a lot of neat new features. In fact, I’m probably overly charitable in many ways because my keyboarded basis for comparison is Windows Mobile, and that’s got glaring flaws…

For example, Mobile IE is crap. Android’s browser, using the same WebKit engine as Safari and Nokia’s, just plain works. A breath of fresh air by comparison, even though I’m sure there are some flaws.

Every app I cared about on my Windows phone had an equivalent in the app store. Most things I coveted about the iPhone also had apps in the store. Nothing big is missing from the built-in apps, which tends to raise the bar for the app developers. So, except for one or two especially notable Windows Mobile apps, the Android equivalents are much nicer.

The Droid hardware is good. It’s fast, the screen is great, the GPS hardware is super accurate, and the docking station is quite nice. The keyboard is fine, but takes some getting used to… although I’d love a Home and Back button on the two blank spots. The only real problem is that it’s a little easy to hit a hardware button… most notably the volume keys. The orientation sensor seems to be a bit temperamental, although I think that the way some apps don’t support rotation makes that worse.

I also think the memory card placement is a bit silly, although the way Android works with the SD card might have some role in why that sounded like such a great idea.

They implemented Haptic feedback at some point in the development of Android. I’m not sure when this happened, but I like it a lot. I tried the audio feedback on my first Windows Mobile PDA over a decade ago and turned it off within minutes. I think it was a Star Trek assumption. In TNG, the various touch-screens would make quiet beeps, and that made sense with clacky keyboards, but we seem to have moved to a society where if you check your calendar in the middle of a meeting, you don’t want people hearing the beeping noise.

Although, that may be the only way that you could prevent Worf from playing Doom 97 on his PADD while Riker droned on… :D Either way, Haptics will give you feedback without noise to know that you did just hit something. I like it, although my friend Elea turned it off instantly. And life doesn’t have to resemble Star Trek, although there is a Tricorder app that uses the real sensors on the phone.

I am needing to adjust to the new way of working that does not require a long thumbnail to gain a smaller pointing surface. This is a critique of Windows Mobile, really. The controls in Droid are generally entirely thumb-sized so nothing makes you wish for a stylus.

My specific glaring critique is that the built-in Mail app isn’t great. I’ve been using the K-9 Mail app instead. The big problem I have with the Mail application is just that I can’t move a message into a folder very easily. The funny thing is that K-9 Mail is a fork of the existing open source Android mail client.

I’ll write more later, I’m sure…