I had tried out the G1 at T-Mobile stores, but really wasn’t impressed. It has a lot of similar features as the iPhone, but it was a lot less polished and not quite as logically lain out.
Android hardware has gotten a lot better since then. The OS has improved quite a bit as well. A friend of mine has a DROID that was just updated to Android 2.1 and I notice that a lot of the list scrolling (such as in the app management screen) and the zooming in and out in the maps app is definitely not as smooth as the iPhone. The whole Android experience is more complex. It feels more like Linux, which I suppose is not surprising. Prior to buying my iPhone 3GS, I spent a lot of time at the Apple store and at the T-Mobile store trying out both phones.
Here are some examples of what I feel could be improved in Android:
- List scrolling behavior. There’s too much hesitation.
- I find the soft keys are too easy to hit accidentally.
- The settings app doesn’t seem logical to me. Additionally, there are some settings, such as the wallpaper, which are not located there. The iPhone isn’t great about this either, in terms of app settings, as some are in the app and some are in the system settings. However, the system settings are generally well laid out.
- The google search bar across the top of the home screen limits the number of apps that can be displayed. I wonder how often people really use that feature.
- The keys of the on-screen keyboard seem to be narrower than on the iPhone, making it more difficult to type with.
- For regular people (i.e. not computer nerds), syncing media to the phone is difficult. True, you can download and install DoubleTwist. However, it’s a separate step for the user, and one which they don’t know that it exists. It’s true that iPhone owners need to download and install iTunes (and that iTunes on Windows sucks), but Apple tells the owner this and it’s an expected action to have to take.
- The first phones had a small amount of RAM available for installing applications. While it’s true that apps can store data on external storage, and that storage can be expanded, it places an additional burden on the phone owner. While that’s great for technical owners, it seems less friendly to those who are less technical.
- The overall quality of the apps in the app store seems to be lower. It could be that the percentage of great apps is the same, but since the Android app store is roughly 10x smaller than the iPhone’s, the relative numbers of great apps will be smaller. iPhone seems to be publishers first platform of choice due to the larger customer base. And while it’s true that the Android app store is growing faster, that’s only because it’s a lot smaller. The iPhone app store is still adding more applications a month than Android.
- The Android app store is a mess to navigate.
Here are some things that I like better about Android:
- The ability for side-loading apps, although my expectation is that most people will never use this feature.
- There are some cool apps that can change the behavior of thee phone based on environmental factors (location, time, etc).
- The use of mini USB for charging and connecting to a computer.
I’m extremely interested in the development of the Android platform and when my current phone service contract is up, I will definitely consider Android again.